Goncharova and Hahn get ready to go head-to-head

The two T38 class rivals will go for gold over 100m and 200m at the IPC Athletics World Championships. 14 Oct 2015
Graphic with two female athletes

Russia’s Paralympic champion Margarita Goncharova and Great Britain’s world champion Sophie Hahn will go head-to-head at the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships.

By Marina Dmukhovskaya | For the IPC

“I do not have a motivation. I just don’t need it. You don't need a motivation to do something you enjoy doing in the first place.”

Russia’s Paralympic champion Margarita Goncharova and Great Britain’s world champion Sophie Hahn have held a monopoly over the 100m T38 at the last few major Championships.

Now the pair are set to continue their enthralling rivalry on the track at the IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha, Qatar, between 21–31 October.

And if their past encounters are anything to go by, predicting the winner will not be easy.

It was at the last World Championships two years ago when the pair first lined up together; Goncharova, the Paralympic champion in 2012, met her match when Hahn, the new kid on the block, lined up in her first major international event.

Hahn quickly made her presence known as she stormed home to claim 100m T38 gold in what was then a world record time; Goncharova had to settle for fourth place.

For Goncharova, that experience in Lyon only served to highlight how winning, and staying at the top, should not be taken for granted.

“In our sport there are new faces all the time and it is always hard to make any predictions about potential results,” said Goncharova.

“Any competition is important to me, no matter if it is the Russian Championships or a major competition at the world level,” added the triple Paralympic champion.

In May last year, Goncharova set a new 100m T38 world record, clocking 13.09 in Nottwil, Switzerland. Just 24 hours later Hahn broke it back, knocking a further 0.05 seconds off the mark. Their rivalry continued apace.

Then in August 2014 the Russian got her revenge once more, topping the podium at the IPC Athletics European Championships in Swansea, Great Britain, four times - and clinching gold ahead of Hahn in both the 100m and 400m T38.

Meanwhile for Hahn, second place in Swansea served as a reminder of just what life was like at the top as she experienced the rollercoaster ride of success and defeat.

Now, with two major Championships under her belt, Hahn believes that her experiences from Lyon and Swansea will serve her well.

“It was a massive learning curve. I didn’t feel prepared for the conditions, I was still quite new to the sport,” explained Hahn.

“Going in to Doha I know what to expect, I have more experience and I know what’s to come. Now I feel ready, I’m very much looking forward to being on the global stage again.”

Hahn can also take some comfort from the fact that in her most recent encounter with Goncharova - in fact their only race together so far this year – it was the Briton who came out on top.

In some style too. Hahn knocked a phenomenal 0.04 seconds off her own world record mark as she stormed home at July’s Grand Prix Final in 13.00, with the Russian in second place.

Hahn does not underestimate the importance of that win less than three months before the 2015 World Championships.

“It was massively important, the last time I faced [Goncharova] was at the Europeans where she beat me fair and square. I didn’t think I was going to beat her on the day, it was more of a shock.

“I’m very focused after London. It was a case of ‘Right, what can I do, how can I get even quicker, how can I get ahead of the game’. So I’ve just been working really hard and hopefully it will pay off.”

Despite their thrilling rivalry, Goncharova does not put any pressure on herself when it comes to racing on the world stage.

“I am not trying to prove anything to anybody in Doha, I am just doing what I like the most and put a lot of effort into this. The result is just an outcome of how my coach and I have worked through the season,” she said.

“I do not have a motivation. I just don’t need it. You don't need a motivation to do something you enjoy doing in the first place.”

Of course it’s not all about Goncharova and Hahn, in the absence of Brazil’s Veronica Hipolito.

China’s Junfei Chen and Australian Ella Pardy are amongst a talented field. Chen has experience on her side - the 23-year-old won Paralympic 100m T38 silver in London and gold over 200m, then followed that up with world bronze in Lyon. Pardy meanwhile sits third in the world rankings.

It is clear yet another close contest may well be on the cards, but the question remains – can anyone break the monopoly?

Around 1,300 athletes from 100 countries will be in Doha, Qatar, for the IPC Athletics World Championships between 21-31 October. You can watch all the action live at www.doha2015.org