03 May 2012
Double World Champion and multiple World Record holder Hannah Cockroft (coach: Peter Eriksson) will open her 2012 outdoor season at the London 2012 Paralympic athletics test event on Tuesday (8 May), and she can’t wait to get back inside the Olympic Park.
“My last visit was nearly two years ago when the stadium was just a shell,” says the Halifax T34 athlete. “There were no seats and there wasn’t even a track back then, but it was still a pretty amazing place to be!”
“I just can't wait to get into the stadium and see how much it has changed. I've seen photos of it and some coverage on TV, but nothing is going to give the same effect as actually getting out on the actual track where I’ll either make or break my career in four months time.”
Cockroft has already got her year off to a flying start and reduced her own T34 400m global best with a time of 59.99 at the Sydney Track Classic in Australia in February. She has gone quicker (58.59), but not in an IPC ratified event.
She’s now focused on a series of domestic events - kicking off with the Visa London Disability Athletics Challenge - and hopes that her early season hard work will pay off.
“I've spent a lot of this year on warm weather training camps to make sure I’m in the best shape possible for the upcoming season and everything is looking pretty positive!” she says. “I spent January and February out in Australia at the Summer Down Under race series which was a great experience for me, as I got to spend some quality training time with my coach Peter Eriksson and our new wheelchair coach on the team, Kelly Smith.”
“I then spent most of March at our Aviva warm weather camp with my idol Chantal Petitclerc as a coach, mentor and training partner! With 2012 hopefully being my first Paralympic Games, all of their combined experience is just what I need to get prepared for the biggest event of my life.”
“This test event really is a once in a lifetime opportunity to race on the track where I could potentially win a Paralympic gold medal, so I’m grabbing the opportunity with both hands. I know the stadium won’t be full, but I’m sure we’ll get the same sensation; whether you're performing in front of one person or one million people, the same pressure is there to perform. People have expectations now and I’m working hard to make sure I deliver.”
More than 200 athletes have been invited to compete in the test event from almost fifty nations around the world. Almost half of those are British, and many will be targeting Paralympic Games qualifying standards as the crucial summer season gets underway.
For full entry lists and the event timetable, go to: http://www.londonpreparesseries.com