One more gold medal for Great Britain and Hannah Cockroft in the T34 400m on the first day of the IPC World Championships in Doha.
Hannah Cockroft, born on 30 July 1992, she suffered two cardiac arrests at birth that damaged two different areas of her brain. She was left with deformity to her legs and feet and weakened hips that affected her balance and mobility. Her parents were told that she would never be able to walk, talk, do anything for herself or live past her teenage years. ‘Doctors told my parents I would never be able to do anything my whole life and wouldn’t live past my teenage years,’ she told The Sun. On 31 October 2015, Hannah Cockroft claimed her third successive T34 100m world championships gold medal in Doha. The London 2012 Paralympic double gold medalist won in a championship record time of 17.73sec on the first day of the IPC championships. “The pressure is always there as I am always one of the ones to watch,” she said after the victory. “Sometimes that can get to your head but I think I proved today I can deal with it. I had to play the race to my strengths – I was pretty confident with going with 200m left.”
«I’d lived in a totally able-bodied world. Ian let me have a go in his wheelchair and I loved it. I’d never experienced anything like it before»
According to her early years, the first racing chair of Cockroft, was built by her father. At secondary school, she was competing in swimming, wheelchair racing, seated discus, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby. At the age of 15, Hannah represented Yorkshire in both wheelchair basketball and seated discus. It was in the UK Athletics Talent ID Day at Loughborough University that she first had the chance to try an elite wheelchair racing, by Dr Ian Thompson. «He said ‘Do you want to go in a racing chair?'» she says. «I’d never seen one before and had no idea who Tanni was. I’d lived in a totally able-bodied world. Ian let me have a go in his wheelchair and I loved it. I’d never experienced anything like it before. You go and you don’t stop.» Shortly after she attended the Beijing Paralympics, she was invited to join the Great Britain Paralympic Team.
The IPC championship wasn’t the first achievement for Hannah Cockroft. A long way through the years and hard work has gave her many awards and chances for records to be broken. On 2010, Hannah Cockroft competed at the British Wheelchair Athletics Association International event, and broke four world records, and receiving the same year the Best British Paralympic Performance. At the 2011 IPC Athletics World Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand she took gold in the 100 metres T34 and 200 metres T34. A second Best British Paralympic Performance for 2011 this time, was gained by her. In May 2012 she became the first Paralympic athlete to break a world record in the London Olympic Stadium, recording a time of 18.56 seconds to win the 100 metres T34, only for broke the record again later that month at the Swiss National Championships, finishing in 17.60 seconds. On 31 August 2012 she won Great Britain’s first track and field gold medal of the 2012 Summer Paralympics, winning the final of the 100 metres T34 in 18.05 seconds, a Paralympic record. On 6th of September, she won another gold medal in 200 metres T34 in 31.90 seconds, also a Paralympic record. On 28 July 2013, Cockroft won the T33/T34 100 metres race at the Anniversary Games at the Olympic Stadium with a stadium record time of 17.80 seconds. On 1 June 2014 Cockroft recorded a new World Record time of 3.53.57 at 1500 m during the Bedford International Games. In August 2014, Cockroft won double European gold (100m and 800m) in Swansea to complete the only major championships medals missing in her career. Another addition is the latest gold metal that she won on 2015 IPC World Championships, in Doha.
ʺPeople are not willing to help you. I am very independent, but there are things that you do need help with»
Despite her great achievements it is interesting also what Hannah is thinking about the way disabled people can be treated in UK. In her interview for The Guardian after the London Paralympics games, she said that life in Britain could be made easier for disabled people, especially when it comes to accessibility. «There are a lot of shops around London that are still inaccessible», «We went to a restaurant and you had to go up some stairs. I was lucky because I had my friend and her dad, and he just carried me inʺ, «I took the train down here and the lift was broken in my trainstationʺ. ʺPeople are not willing to help you. I think that’s ignorance. Maybe it makes people feel awkward. I am very independent, but there are things that you do need help with.»
Hannah Cockroft, was told by the doctors that she is not going to be able to do anything by herself. Twenty three years later, Hannah keeps proving them wrong. Not only she is able to do things by herself but indeed she is doing great things and admirable but the rest of us. She is a gold championships winner not only once but three times and she is keeping going. In the end of this article, here is one of Hannah’s favorite quotes that hopefully inspire more and more people: “Those afraid of pain will never know glory”.
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