22 September 2019
| THE HEARTBEAT OF WOMEN'S SPORT

#RoadToRio – Hannah Cockroft

March 9, 2016
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With just six months to go before the Rio 2016 Paralympics, we caught up with wheelchair racer extraordinaire, Hannah Cockroft.

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Winter training
“I spent the whole of January in Australia, getting the miles in and getting some good training done, so that was great and I am definitely stronger and faster than I have ever been, so if I can keep training like this for the next few months then I’ll be very happy.”

Added pressure
“It feels really different as we approach these Olympics. Going into London, I was 19, unknown , there was no pressure, no expectation. I didn’t even know at this stage if I would be competing. This time, I reckon I am getting a bit of the pressure that Dave Weir got going into London. Everyone knows who I am, I am 7 times World Champion, a double Paralympic gold medalist, I’ve got medals to try to retain and there’s a lot more pressure now to go out and perform.”

Support network
“I’ve got a great team around me now, so there are a lot of people who help me deal with it – we got every base covered in terms of backroom staff and then with BT as my sponsor I have security and all the equipment I need. So I am definitely in a better place to deal with it than ever before.”

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Warm-up events
“Between now and Rio, there are the British Championships on the first weekend in May, then we fly out the Switzerland for the Swiss Grand Prix at the end of May. That event, aside from the Paralympics, is our biggest competition – it’s renowned for its wheelchair races and having the fastest tracks, so basically anyone who’s anyone will be there. Then finally we have the anniversary games in July where we can get a flavor of the atmosphere that we hope to have in Rio.”

More athletes, more competition
“After London, there was such a surge in people of all ages getting involved in wheelchair racing – be that just to raise money for charity or at the other extreme trying to be the next David Weir – it was amazing how many people got started. Last year I lost my first race in 7 years to a girl who saw me in London and thought she could do it, it’s great to have been the inspiration – not so great to get beaten though.”

New distances
“It’s good to have more competition and it will make me better, but I’ve a massive task ahead of me because I am not just doing the sprint events this time, but also the 400 and 800m. I’ve had to learn new skills, so everything has changed really and it’s a completely different scenario to London. I’ve had to work a lot harder.

I love the 100m, and I quite enjoy the 400m, but I hate the 800m because it’s much more tactical and people can sit behind me and get the benefit of my slipstream. In the 400m you have to stay in lane so it’s much more straight-forward. The 800m you have to know your opposition and there’s a lot more to think about, as well as going as fast as you can!”

Staying injury free
“I am lucky that I’ve not had any injuries, so I am not concerned about that and to be honest I am not sure what I would do if that happened, but I’ve a great team around me who would know how to deal with it!

I look after myself, eat well, warm up and down really well, especially in the cold weather and make sure that that doesn’t happen.”

Rio and beyond
“It feels like time has speeded up since London 2012, I honestly don’t feel like I’ve stopped. It’s amazing, I can’t believe it’s been four years.

Looking ahead, I am not planning for Rio to be my last games, I’d love to aim for Tokyo too, I think that will be an amazing games. Then after that we’ll see.”

Danielle Sellwood, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine

Hannah Cockroft is a BT Ambassador. BT is a long-time supporter of disability sport in the UK and the Founding Partner to the British Paralympic Association.

If you want to support Britain’s Paralympians on their journey to Rio, you can donate to the British Paralympic Association’s #Supercharge ParalympicsGB campaign to generate support and raise funds for Britain’s Paralympics team. mydonatetelethonsappeals.bt.com

 

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