Living Jackson

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Soph & Scottie: Their Story So Far

Soph & Scottie: Their Story So Far

So I’ve got a condition called oculocutaneous albinism, which means that I’m an Albino you might not notice it with the ginger hair, my condition kind of means that I can’t see in bright light
effectively my eyes let too much light in so to process everything quickly it’s
quite hard for me but growing up with the condition I was always told just get on
with it if you can’t see it get closer that’s what my dad always used to say to me
which I’m glad he did because it means that I just crack on with it and I find
ways around it. Scottie often says to me sometimes I’m blind one Soph,
so yeah for me growing up I just didn’t let it get in the way. Moving on to the Para squad it was
because I’d, you know I hate to say it but sort of failed in my first year of becoming
an able-bodied sprinter youngster on on the team and my
knowledge of the Paralympic Games was much less than Sophie’s was at that time
but then all of a sudden I was you know two years out from a Paralympic Games in London, the biggest ever Paralympic Games and I was about to go there so that was my goal and that was my purpose on the
squad you know the Olympics was out of my mind it was the Paralympics. Well I went to London I actually watched
Scottie win her silver medal in the kilo with Aileen, it’s mad isn’t it because I forget that and when Sophie says it I think ‘Oh wow, gosh she was
actually watching’ and yeah and then we were partners in the next one and it’s
quite special that actually I can’t think of a lot of tandem pairings that
can say that about each other so and that’s that’s really cool.
I think we met in the bottom D of the velodrome I think you might have had
your Dad with you and we got introduced this is Sophie Thornhill she is you know
visually impaired, she wants to ride on the tandem will you help out and I think you were in I just remember you being in the Sports City pink kit and you were super keen and super quiet, oh how that has changed. I don’t know immediately I was like ‘I wanna race with her’ but you were still too young. I was only 14 at the time – 10 I told you. Sophie and Helen were already riding together at
that point they generally did seem like not just a riding partnership but a
friendship. Yeah I think we’ve always kind of clicked really well and I think
we’re very different but very similar in different ways and I think that
works for us. We respect eachother as people and like as sisters really so
we don’t have to be best friends like Soph said we are very different but
we bring out great qualities in eachother and it works for us as a pair and I
think that’s what – because we are different ways we kind of fill the gaps
with eachother. Once we’d finished Glasgow obviously the coaches all met
and it was two years away, Rio so decisions had to be made and they
did – I remember John Norfolk our old coach came up to me in the gym and
said we’ve decided you and Sophie are the team that was going forward now
and of course like we had no idea whether we’d make it to Rio but
if we were going to it was going to be us two as the sprint tandem. Back then you know we had a lot of
success from there you know, we won the next world champs together in 2015 in
Apeldoorn and we were so far ahead of the rest of the world there was you know
complacency we can probably look back and say maybe but back then we just
thought well this is brilliant you know we’re going really well together loving
life, training’s going well we’re racing well we’ve put out times nobody has done
before on the tandem so this must all be going really smoothly we didn’t look
into any kind of depth into our relationships or anything so deeply
at that point, it was all going swimmingly at that point Absolute devastation to be honest yeah
it was completely out the blue I remember sitting in the track centre
before the kilo and the Aussies pulled out a time that was our PB and I went ‘track’s running fast we’ll be alright’ and we were sat on the start
line and I remember hearing an unbelievably fast time that we’d never
even got close to before and you just sat there thinking ‘oh god’ that’s not the feeling you want before going up to a start line you know I think I’d
never been beaten at a World Championships before and we as a pairing we were
unbeaten at World Championships as well so kind of I suppose there is that
element of well you’re just gonna win again and in hindsight it’s kind of the
the best thing that ever happened to us being beaten by the Dutch but at the time it
feels like the worst thing in the world you think the world’s ending. This was 100%
the turning point in our career no matter what happens from now onwards we then
had to really look deeply into how we operate as a pair how we treat each
other how we treat our approach to training you know and we sat a few times
in a few meetings and we were brutal at times. I didn’t really
know what I was doing I’d never been to a Games before and I didn’t know what that build up should look like I didn’t know what it should
look like from my own point of view I didn’t know what it should look like
from a staff’s point of view from the pilots point of view I didn’t really
know what I was doing, sort of like a rabbit in the headlights really and I think
that probably showed but sometimes you just need
to go through that but kind of just understand that you have to have
trusted other people you have to have trust in yourself you have to have trust
in the person next to you that they do want it as much as you and I think it’s a weird place to be but I think to be – for us as a pairing to be in
that place was the best thing that ever happened to our tandem partnership
because we would both say if we hadn’t have lost in the Worlds we
wouldn’t have won in Rio, if we’d have won at Worlds we wouldn’t have won in Rio, because we needed
to completely start over. The Games itself didn’t faze us because I think
we were so focused on just that ride I think it was Steve Peters, I had
learned from him years ago he always said you know the situation
changes but what you’re doing never does so you’ve almost got to forget
wherever you are and whatever it means because if you do think about what it
means, everybody would crumble I think. All I remember from watching it, was – well I can’t see the board so I was thinking I don’t know what’s going, and I was sat there like ‘come on someone tell me something’ And I wasn’t saying anything cause I was like. Then you went ‘they’re eight tenths down with one lap to go’ And I was like,
they’re not gonna bridge eight tenths surely you can’t bridge eight tenths in a lap. And they didn’t. And then I remember seeing like an orange box and I knew that
orange box meant Paralympic record and it didn’t come up – so I was like
well so they’ve not got faster then have they, so I looked to you I think to
confirm before I celebrated and then you just looked at me like – and then John Norfolk came over and we just had a bit of a hug. There’s that amazing moment isn’t there, where we’re just grabbing eachother, I’m like – ‘we did it Soph’ There’s that picture… that one! That’s on my mum’s bathroom wall that is. You just think oh god I want to go back
and feel it, you know those moments that you want a bottle like there’s only been a
few in our career and that was the first probably that you just feel I just want
to bottle that moment ’cause Soph wasn’t 100% sure like you say, you
knew a bit but then I grabbed her and I went we’ve done it Soph and we
threw our poor bikes down at the end of that I think we forget it sometimes
don’t we Soph that that’s what we went through, I think it does create
a bond and it’s a bond like you say that can ever be broken because we’ve
gone through, but it’s sort of more than that, you
now from that moment you know that when the going gets tough you know that – if both of us are all in and we’ve both said to each
other for this cycle up to Tokyo we’re all in and we know that if we need to do
that again we know we can do it that’s everything
that is you know That’s what brought us together and
kind of made us both into the athletes I think we are now and like I say for me
I grew up I learned a lot I don’t fear Tokyo like I feared Rio I think, after
standing on that top step in Rio it’s just infectious you want it
again and we want to stand on that top step in Tokyo and there are stepping
stones towards that so, 2018 was the best year of our career by far. It’s hard getting there but it’s almost harder staying there you know because
everybody’s chasing you everybody’s watching you that means you can’t put a
foot wrong in training or in a race now so it’s a different
kind of pressure being at the top now it’s exciting but it’s also tough,
everybody has a day that you don’t enjoy, there are training sessions that we don’t enjoy but you’re doing it together and
that’s the special thing we’ve got a great team you know we call us team tandem and we’re all going through it, all six of us together so you enjoy the pain
together you know and yeah you enjoy the process together and the build up and it
just makes everything better. Neil Fachie one of the guys on the tandem, he
always puts it really well – I want to leave the sport with a time that
people can’t reach for years and I like that I like the fact that he’s gone
well I want to leave something behind in the sport
that’s going to be remembered and motivate people – exactly and be a
driver for the sport and I think kind of we’ve done that with when we’ve set the
world record that’s driving us so if it’s driving us it’s going to drive
someone in the future and I think especially for Para-sport that’s what’s needed like a real kind of specialism and a progress is needed in Para-sport
and I think if we can be kind of the leaders in that not just us as a
pairing but GB as a whole I think we can leave Para-sport in a much
better place than we came.

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