Preston athlete Sophie takes inspiration from Doha role models

Preston athlete Sophie Warden

A Preston-based athlete has challenged herself to reach the English Championships after seeing the success of British athletes in the World Championships in Doha.

Sophie Warden, 21, has been part of Preston Harriers AC since the age of seven and is currently ranked 20th in the UK for under-23s 400m hurdles.

Warden is one of many young British athletes to have been inspired by Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Dina Asher-Smith who have both won gold in Doha in the heptathlon and 200m, respectively. 

Warden, from Cottam, said: “You look at them and think about how they started in the same way that you did and look at them now.

“Katarina Johnson-Thompson was saying she got to the point where she wanted to quit and she wasn’t sure if it was the sport for her anymore and now five years later she’s world champion.

“I went through the phase of not knowing if I wanted to do it anymore, am I ever going to make it and is all this work I put in for nothing? I’m now looking at her thinking if she can do it then so can I.”

Former Kirkham Grammar student Warden is coached by dad Peter, a semi-finalist in the 400m hurdles at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, so is not short of role models herself. 

She does, however, recognise the importance of having female role models, not just for herself but also for the younger generation of girls. She added: “I saw something on an advert the other day which said, ‘If young girls can’t see us then they can’t be us’.

“If the role models aren’t there for us to see and the athletes aren’t there then you’ve got nothing to aspire to.”

Warden, who studies sports coaching and development at Edge Hill University, currently has a personal best of 1:05.7 for the 400m hurdles and has set herself some goals for the new season.

“My aim for this coming season is I want to make the 2020 British Championships in Manchester. 

“One of the girls out there at the moment who has competing in the 400m hurdles, Jessica Turner, I competed against her at the Northern Championships so I know how far ahead of me she is so I know what I’ve got to work towards.”