SOPHIA Warner is back home after winning two medals in the IPC World Athletics Championships in New Zealand earlier this month and now everything she does is geared up for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.
Worthing Harrier Warner, 36, won silver in the 200m and bronze in the 100m, both in the T35 category, and she said: “My aim for this year is to try to get personal bests in the 100m and 200m as the big year is 2012, which is what it’s all building up to.
“I’m hoping to get on the Funding Programme for the Games. The money’s not important but it would be the recognition of being an athlete who’s going to deliver a gold medal.
“Being a disabled athlete, I’d get physio a few times a week, sport massages and treatment for my cerebral palsy.
“I’ve made a commitment to do the Games in 2012 and I’m not sure if I could walk away from competing after that, so wouldn’t rule out Rio in 2016 yet.
“However, this year has taken its toll and has been battering. I work full time and have a family, so am not sure I could do this for another six years.”
The T35 category Warner competes in means both of an athletes legs are equally affected by cerebral palsy, but one of her arms is affected as well.
She said: “I was the most disabled person in my races and it’s tough to do what I do, which makes me more thrilled to come away with two medals from New Zealand when you look what I was up against.
“There are seven levels of disabled categories, starting at T32 all the way up to T38. The T35 classification is the first ambulant classification.”
Warner added that when she retires from competing she wants to help young disabled people become involved in sport, and said: “Disabled sport isn’t very well publicised. You have to go out and find clubs, rather than them coming to you.
“I’ve always just loved sport and have no revenge or anger for doing it. I’m not driven to prove a point, I just really enjoy it and am very competitive by nature.
“If I’d known when I was nine that I could be competing in the Olympics aged 18, it would have made such a difference, especially as I’ve just worn the GB vest and competed for my country.
“I really want to help to get involved and publicise this.”
Next year will be Warner’s first Paralympic Games, after she first competed for GB in 1998 in the World Championships, and she said: “I took some time out after 1999, went partying and having fun and I’m glad I did that now.
“I still did a few charity runs and triathlons before I started up again with Alan Denyer in 2007 at Harriers.
“The club’s been brilliant and Alan has been really good and is hugely supportive.
“He recently showed me a chart of able-bodied athletes and they struggle to knock a second off their time, but I’ve knocked five seconds off my 100m and my goals for 2012 are to win two medals of any colour.”