Scarborough sixth-former Sofie Hopkins has set her sights on Olympic glory after earning the British title in her first-ever biathlon competition.
The Foxholes teenager received the perfect late birthday present, securing the Junior Women’s crown despite only qualifying for the category by turning 17 on the first day of the competition.
Biathlon is a Nordic skiing event in which the competitors combine cross-country skiing and rifle shooting.
The British Championship was staged in Ruhpolding, Germany last month.
Sofie, who only took up the sport a couple of years ago, said: “My main target going into the nationals was to finish in the top 10 of my age category, so to win it at my first attempt was great.
“Now I have my sights set on getting into the GB team for the Winter Olympics in the future, and from there I would like to become the first British competitor to get a podium finish in the biathlon.”
The next Winter Olympicsa are in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Sofie, who was also named as British Biathlon Union (BBU) junior club champion at the event, added: “When I was younger I was a cross country runner, but wanted to take up a different sport and one of my dad’s friends, who was in the Army, suggested biathlon so I decided to take it up.”
Proud dad Frank Hopkins added: “Sofie has taught herself how to ski at the Snozone centre in Castleford, and she has been supported by Humberside Shooting Ground, who sponsored her to the tune of £4,000 and she has been training there.
“Sofie has also been using Oliver’s Mount, Filey Brigg Caravan Park and Sunset Gym to get in top shape for the championships and we are very grateful for their support, as well as the backing of the Merchant Navy Association and the British Legion.”
Sofie completed a gruelling schedule to snap up her titles in Germany, starting with a first place in the 7.5km junior sprint, followed by a second place the next day in the 10km junior mass start event.
She won the 12.5km junior individual on the third day and was called into the relay team, her finishing second in the 3x6km women’s competition.
Sofie is on the look-out for sponsorship as she targets more glory in next year’s Youth Winter Olympics in Vorarlberg, Austria, and Liechtenstein.
If anyone wants to help Sofie out they can contact her dad Frank on 07449408202.