Paulton teenager, Sophie York, returned to the village following an incredible trip to Cologne, Germany, where she competed as an S6 swimmer for Great Britain in the World Dwarf Games, the same condition and category as Olympic Gold Medalist, Ellie Simmonds.
The World Dwarf Games, held every four years, is open to anyone with restricted growth. At the age of just 13-years-old, Sophie competed in the top-class competition alongside others with Achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism.
Sophie’s father, Matt, was delighted to talk to The Journal about Sophie’s achievements: “Sophie started swimming aged 3 in 2013 at Midsomer Norton swimming pool. A few years later, she was lucky enough to be able to swim with a number of amazing coaches. She was then invited to swim with Team Bath at the university a couple of years ago under Kay Wilcox (who used to teach at Midsomer Norton). She now trains five times a week at Bath University.
Matt went on to explain how Sophie’s passion for swimming, and competing, started: “After we’d been to watch the Paralympics in 2012 (Sophie was only 3), she saw a giant banner on a building with a picture of Ellie Simmonds. We didn’t get to watch the swimming live, but we did watch her on TV, and Sophie was hooked from then on. Shortly afterwards, we joined the “Dwarf Sports Association UK” which is the UK sports charity for children with restricted growth, where Ellie Simmonds introduced herself to Sophie.
“Ellie is the patron of the DSA, and she has been amazing in supporting all of the kids for many years.
“The DSA allows Sophie to compete against other people her own size. She’s always been very competitive, and every year she attends the National Games to compete against hundreds of other competitors in her category.”
Incredibly, the Norton Hill School pupil has competed at National events all across the UK, including Glasgow and Swansea with the support of her coach, Kay Wilcox. It seems this is just the start for determined Sophie, who will perhaps follow in her hero, Ellie Simmonds, footsteps.