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Sophie White – Hurdling in her hero’s footsteps

18 September 2018

BUENOS AIRES: Most kids have grown up with an idol. Someone they look up to and one day hope to walk in the footsteps of, but not as many have been lucky enough to do so.

Sixteen-year-old Sophie White is one of the lucky ones. In just two weeks she will jet off to Argentina to represent her country at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games (YOG).

White hopes the YOG will be another step towards her goal of competing on the biggest stage of them all, the Olympic Games, where her inspiration, Sally Pearson has previously claimed gold and silver medals.

And White is on the right track, having already equalled Pearson’s U18 100m hurdle record at the 2018 Australian Junior Athletics Championships in March along with several junior gold medals.

“The U18 100m hurdle record had been a goal of mine from the beginning,” the Perth local said.

“Sally Pearson has always been someone I’ve looked up to and has inspired me since I started competing.

“I’d never felt happier after a race than I did when I equalled Sally’s U18 100m record, I felt so much pride knowing my name would sit beside hers. It has definitely been my proudest moment.”

White says the reason she enjoys the sport so much is because of its purity and inclusivity.

“I love athletics because the sport is honest and based purely on an athlete’s ability to perform in their discipline. It is inclusive of everyone, you can give it a go no matter what your age or ability is.”

Sophie White and Sally Pearson

As a child, White competed in gymnastics before transitioning into athletics, and it wasn’t until later that she discovered her passion for hurdles.

“I did gymnastics as a child, and back then my coach always said that if I were to ever give up gymnastics, I should try athletics, so I did,” she said.

“Gymnastics is definitely a perfectionist’s sport; every movement must be practiced until you have it perfect. I’ve been lucky enough to have that foundation which I’ve carried into athletics. Even now, I will still never stop practicing until I’ve got it perfect.

“Starting off in gymnastics taught me dedication and to be able to continue with something even when it doesn’t go your way, as nothing improves without your time and effort.”

When she made the move to athletics, White didn’t initially considered hurdles as her discipline.

“When I first started athletics, I always saw myself as a long jumper and sprinter and did compete at Junior Nationals in those events with some success,” she said.

“It was only by chance that I decided to enter the hurdles for Junior State Championships one year and instantly loved it. It was then that I realised that my passion lies with hurdles.”

When she isn’t busy breaking records, White likes to spend her time among her menagerie of animals.

“I’ve always been extremely involved with my animals and have grown up with a house full of pets,” she said.

Having my pets, especially my horses, gives me a happy balance between competitive sport and everyday life.” 

And not only does Sophie find success in her discipline, so do her pets!

“I have two guinea pigs and Barney the guinea pig actually won Best in Show at the Perth Show – a very proud moment for Barney and I!”

With less than two weeks to go before the Aussie YOG squad head to Buenos Aires, get to know the team HERE

Liana Buratti

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