Sophie Thornhill
MBE
Personal information
Born (1996-02-09) 9 February 1996 (age 24)[1]
Poynton, Cheshire, England[2]
Height 5 ft 5 in (165 cm)
Weight 60 kg (132 lb)
Team information
Current team Boot Out Breast Cancer
Discipline Track
Role Stoker
Rider type Sprinter
Amateur team
SportCity Velo
Professional team
Boot Out Breast Cancer

Sophie Thornhill, MBE (born 9 February 1996)[1] is a vision impaired English former racing cyclist who competed in para-cycling tandem track events. She is a double world champion, with pilot Rachel James, and a double Commonwealth gold medallist, with pilot Helen Scott, in the tandem sprint and 1 km time trial events. In April 2014, she set world records in the tandem sprint and 1 km time trial, piloted by James.

Biography[edit]

Thornhill comes from Poynton near Stockport in Cheshire. She attended Poynton High School, also attended by para-cyclist Sarah Storey.[1][3] She has only 7–9% vision owing to oculocutaneous albinism, which causes visual impairment.[1][3] She met the para-cyclist Anthony Kappes, also visually impaired, via her uncle; he encouraged her to train as a track cyclist.[1][3]

Thornhill started racing as an adult in May 2013, aged 17.[1] She races as the stoker on the back of a tandem, with the front position occupied by a pilot with normal vision.[3] She was initially piloted by English cyclist Helen Scott, with whom she won three British events.[3] In September 2013 she switched to the Welsh cyclist Rachel James as her pilot.[4] Her international debut came with James in December at the International Paracycling Cup in Newport, Wales, where the pair won two gold medals; their time of 1:09.446 in the 1 km time trial missed the world record by 0.73 seconds.[4][5]

Her first major international competition was the UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships in Aguascalientes, Mexico, in April 2014.[1][6][7] Thornhill and James won the gold medal in the tandem 1 km time trial; their time of 1:05.912 broke the world record by a little under 3 seconds.[8] The pair won gold in the sprint, beating the New Zealand pair Emma Foy and Laura Fairweather 2–0 in the semi-final, and the Australian pair Brandie O’Connor and Breanna Hargrave 2–0 in the final.[1][9][10] They also broke the world record in the qualifying round of the sprint with a flying start time over 200 metres of 10.854 seconds.[1][11]

Thornhill was selected for the English team at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, where para-cycling appeared for the first time;[12][13] at 18, she was the track cycling team’s youngest member.[citation needed] As James was competing for the Welsh team, Thornhill returned to Scott as her pilot to compete in the tandem sprint and 1 km time trial events.[12][13] The pair won the gold medal in the sprint, beating the Australian Paralympic champion Felicity Johnson and pilot Holly Takos 2–0 in the semi-final, and the Scottish pair Aileen McGlynn and Louise Haston 2–0 in the final.[14][15][16] They set the Commonwealth record during qualification, with a time of 11.277 seconds.[15][17] The pair also won gold in the 1 km time trial, with a time of 1:08.187, a Commonwealth Games record.[17][18][19] They beat silver medallists McGlynn and Haston by more than 1.5 seconds.[18][19]Sarah Storey commented: “They had a superbly executed start – they have worked so hard on that aspect of their training – and with the turbo intervals they have done they were able to bring it home strongly.”[20]

Thornhill reunited with James to compete in the 2014 British National Track Championships in September, where they won the mixed time trial[21] and the 200-metre flying start time trial for blind and visually impaired riders.[22]

In June 2020 Thornhill announced her retirement from competition, after the 2020 Summer Paralympics were delayed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She indicated that she would focus on her educational career, taking up a place to study history at Manchester Metropolitan University in September.[23]

Palmarès[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i “GB Cycling Team Rider Biography: Sophie Thornhill”, britishcycling.org, retrieved 23 July 2014
  2. ^ “Sophie Thornhill: Biography”, Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, retrieved 23 July 2014
  3. ^ a b c d e Hudson, Elizabeth (31 December 2013), “Paralympic sport’s ones to watch for 2014”, BBC, retrieved 23 July 2014
  4. ^ a b Hudson, Elizabeth (9 April 2014), Tandem riders Sophie Thornhill & Rachel James target World medals, retrieved 23 July 2014
  5. ^ Anonymous (30 November 2013), “Double world cycling champion Becky James aims to retain titles in 2014”, WalesOnline, retrieved 23 July 2014
  6. ^ McDaid, David (12 April 2014), “Para-cycling Track Championships 2014: GB win two gold medals”, BBC, retrieved 23 July 2014
  7. ^ McDaid, David (14 April 2014), “Para-cycling Track Championships 2014: Storey wins second gold”, BBC, retrieved 23 July 2014
  8. ^ Anonymous (11 April 2014), “Communique #47: Results: Women’s B 1km Time Trial Final”, UCI, retrieved 28 July 2014[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ Anonymous (13 April 2014), “Communique #125: Official Results Finales / Final + 3rd–4th Ride: Women’s Sprints”, UCI, retrieved 28 July 2014[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ Anonymous (13 April 2014), “Communique #115: Official Results Demi-Finales / Semi-final, Heats 1–2: Women’s Sprints”, UCI, retrieved 28 July 2014
  11. ^ Anonymous (13 April 2014), “Communique #102: Official Results: Women’s B Sprints Qualification”, UCI, retrieved 28 July 2014
  12. ^ a b Hudson, Elizabeth (22 July 2014), “Glasgow 2014: The athletes seeking disability ‘key role“, BBC, retrieved 22 July 2014
  13. ^ a b Anonymous (21 July 2014), “Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014: England’s team”, BBC, retrieved 23 July 2014
  14. ^ Anonymous (24 July 2014), “Glasgow 2014: England’s Thornhill & Scott win tandem gold”, BBC, retrieved 24 July 2014
  15. ^ a b Hobro, Scott (24 July 2014), “Thornhill and Scott strike gold for Team England as Glasgow Commonwealth Games begin”, britishcycling.org, retrieved 25 July 2014
  16. ^ Anonymous (24 July 2014), “Results: Cycling track: Women’s Sprint B2 Tandem Finals – Race 1”, Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, retrieved 27 July 2014
  17. ^ a b Anonymous (24 July 2014), “Results: Cycling track”, Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, retrieved 27 July 2014
  18. ^ a b Anonymous (27 July 2014), “Results: Cycling track: Women’s 1000m Time Trial B2 Tandem”, Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, retrieved 27 July 2014
  19. ^ a b Anonymous (27 July 2014), “Glasgow 2014: Gold for England in the women’s 1,000m time trail”, BBC Sport, retrieved 27 July 2014
  20. ^ Anonymous (27 July 2014), “Glasgow 2014: Thornhill and Scott win gold for England”, BBC Sport, retrieved 27 July 2014
  21. ^ “British National Track Championships 24th–28th September 2014: Communiqué No 008” (PDF). trackworldcup.co.uk. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
  22. ^ “National Track Championships: Jess Varnish powers to sprint title”. bbc.co.uk. 26 September 2014. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
  23. ^ Ballinger, Alex (17 June 2020). “British Paralympic star Sophie Thornhill announces retirement, aged 24”. Cycling Weekly. Retrieved 21 June 2020.
  24. ^ Hope, Nick (29 March 2015). “Para-cycling Worlds: Fachie and Thornhill claim sprint titles”. bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  25. ^ “British National Track Championships 25th-27th September 2015: Communiqué No 015: Category Mixed Para Cycling BVI: Event Standing Start Time Trial: Round Final Result” (PDF). British Cycling. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  26. ^ “British National Track Championship 25th-27th September 2015: Communiqué No 047: Category Female: Event 200m Flying Start TT: Round Final Result” (PDF). British Cycling. Retrieved 27 September 2015.

External links[edit]

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