24 December 2016
It has been quite a year for Hannah Cockroft (coach: Jenni Banks). With expectation on her to deliver three gold medals at the Rio Paralympic Games, she did not disappoint and won the T34 100m, 400m and 800m titles, the 400m in world record time (58.78).
With 14 major senior titles to her name, Cockroft is a star of para athletics, and she added to her stock in Rio, continuing her dominance within her class to become a five-time Paralympic champion.
But what was the highlight for Hannah?
“The 800m – it was my last race, and going into the last 200m, the crowd started chanting my name. It was a moment where I half wanted to sit up in my chair and start waving, but half of me was motivated to push on even more. It was just the most incredible moment.”
As a 20 year-old, ‘the Hurricane’ burst into the public eye, winning hearts with her sprinting power and that memorable ‘Thriller Thursday’. Since that day, a four year cycle has passed with a number of challenges faced, but many achievements attained.
“Rio was always my target over the four years – it was always going to be a big challenge because I took on the 400m and 800m which were brand new events for me. It took a lot of training and a lot of hard work. Rio is probably my biggest achievement because it was the target ever since I won in London.”
The Yorkshire-born athlete is not planning on getting complacent, and is motivated as ever to stay ahead of a young generation including compatriot Kare Adenegan, who won three medals at the Paralympic Games at the age of just 15, and American Alexa Halko.
On what motivates her, the seven-time world champion commented:
“I think I am motivated because I love winning. I love that feeling of been on top of the podium – my aim is to just stay there. I’m only 24 so I feel like I can get a few more (gold medals). Paralympic sport is growing year upon year especially in my classification, it is getting tougher. There are more girls coming through all the time. I want to stay on top and prove I am the best in the world.”
Personal success is one thing, but Cockroft enjoyed watching her teammates win medals at the Estadio Olimpico, and of the 33 won by para athletics in Rio, she highlights Hollie Arnold’s triumph in the F46 javelin as one of her favourite moments.
“Seeing Hollie win gold (in the F46 Javelin) was fantastic – Hollie has been my best friend since my first day on the team. She took me under her wing and showed me how things worked. To see her dreams come true and see all her hard work pay off was amazing. I didn’t cry when I won gold but when she won, I was streaming!”
With the World Para Athletics Championships coming to London in July 2017, there is only one thing on the mind of the multiple global medallist, and that is to win more medals at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park next July.
“There is only one goal and that is the World Para Athletics Championships which is coming back to London in July. To go back out there in front of a home crowd in that stadium is something I’m looking forward to and I’ll be aiming to retain my world titles.
“There is nothing better than a British crowd – they are so passionate about Paralympic sport and so supportive of the athletes. It is always a pleasure and a privilege to compete in front of them.”