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Sophie inspires young Dons

28 March 2013

Olympic winner provided motivational speech

AFC Wimbledon’s Under-18s squad had an extra special Thursday training session this afternoon when they were joined by Olympic gold medal winner Sophie Hosking.

Sophie, a former Wimbledon FC Ladies player and an avid Dons fan, got the football boots back on and joined in with Mark Robinson’s players at our New Malden training complex.

That came after Sophie, who won gold in the Lightweight Double Sculls event at London 2012, gave a motivational speech to Wimbledon’s youngsters. The 27-year-old talked about how she made the transition from being a promising teenage rower to an Olympic Champion, including the “frustrating” times when people thought she was too short to be an international rower. Then Sophie mentioned her dedication to the cause, which included 17 training sessions a week at the height of her Olympic training schedule.

After watching a re-run of Sophie winning gold with her rowing partner Katherine Copeland, AFC Wimbledon’s youngsters got to hold the coveted medal, before a lengthy Q & A with the former Kingston Grammar School pupil. In response to one question, Sophie recalled her early allegiance to Wimbledon – and just how important she feels it is for players to come through the ranks.

“When I was a Wimbledon supporter as a kid I loved the fact that we produced our own players,” she said. “I remember that I did a paper round and Neil Sullivan’s house was on the list. It was a big thing for me that we had local players like Neil came through.”

 Dons Player subscribers can watch a full video interview with Sophie and Mark Robinson on our premium site.

During the interview, Mark said: “Sean Ryder (Mental Performance Coach for Wimbledon Under-18s) has made me realise how important the mental side of football is. He got in touch with Sophie because she is a Wimbledon fan and it is absolutely perfect for us for her to come along and give a talk to the young players. Sophie is someone who has achieved so much without massive financial reward and I sometimes question whether the players play for the right reasons. It is an important time of the year for us in terms of boys being kept on and hopefully she will have inspired a few who sometimes may lack that desire.”

  Sophie, who picked up an MBE in February for her contribution to sport, has confirmed that she will retire from competitive rowing to concentrate on studying to become a Lawyer.

“I will not be competing internationally in the future,” she said. “It was a tough decision and not one I wanted to rush into. I have given everything I can give to the sport and I do not see how I can better winning a gold medal at the home Olympics.”


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