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Hannah Cockroft of Great Britain prepares to compete in the Women's 400m T34 at the London 2017 World Para Athletics Championships.

Hannah Cockroft

Athletics
5

Still in her mid-twenties, Yorkshire born Cockroft has won five Paralympic, 10 world and two European titles since making her international debut in 2011. She most recently added to her collection by winning gold in the 100m, 400m and 800m T34 at London 2017.

Born in 1992, she took up Para athletics in 2007 aged 15 at a Loughborough University talent day where she tried wheelchair racing for the first time.

In 2010, she broke nine world records and a year later won her first world titles in New Zealand with Championship records over 100m (18.98) and 200m (33.72).

‘Hurricane Hannah’ continued her record breaking in 2012. In the 100m heats at London 2012, she lowered the Paralympic record with a time of 18.24, before clocking 18.06 in the final.

The 200m was a similar story – she broke the Paralympic record in the heats (33.20) before demolishing the opposition in the final with a time of 31.09.

In the 2013 New Year's Honours, Cockroft was awarded a Member of the British Empire (MBE) for her achievements.

Later the same year she defended her 100m and 200m world titles at the 2013 World Championships in Lyon, France, setting new championship records in both distances.

She started the 2014 season in blistering form setting a new world record in the 100m (17.91) at the Grand Prix in Nottwil, Switzerland before following up with European titles in the 100m and 800m T34 in Swansea, Great Britain.

In June 2015 Cockroft broke her 200m world record (30.51) but a few weeks later she suffered her first defeat in 300 races. She was soon back to winning ways however, picking up three further world titles in championship record time in Doha, Qatar. She was victorious over 100m (17.73), 400m (1:02.66) and 800m (2:07.10).

Cockroft broke the 800m T34 world record (1:56.89) just weeks before heading to Rio 2016 where she took on the 100m (17.42), 400m (58.78) and 800m (2:00.62) T34. She won all three, breaking her own 400m world record in the process.

More world records followed in 2017. Over ten days of competition in May and early June, Cockroft broke no fewer than five world marks, including the 1,500m T34 – a distance she rarely races.

Heading to London 2017 as the favourite for triple gold, Cockroft didn’t disappoint, dominating all three of her events - the 100m, 400m and 800m T34 – and knocking 0.10 seconds off her previous 100m world record with a time of 17.18.

Biography

Impairment information

Type of Impairment
Cerebral Palsy
Classification
T34

Further personal information

Family
Partner Nathan Maguire
Residence
Chester, ENG
Occupation
Athlete
Languages
English, German
Higher education
Journalism - Coventry University: England

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
She began racing at age 15 at a Loughborough University talent day in England. She had been playing wheelchair basketball before then.
Why this sport?
She took up the sport as a hobby. "I like the ability to travel at speed as it isn't possible without my wheelchair. I like the speed, adrenaline and pure fun in the sport. "
Club / Team
Leeds City Athletic Club: England
Name of coach
Jenni Banks [personal], AUS, from 2013

International debut

Year
2011
Competing for
Great Britain
Tournament
World Championships
Location
Christchurch, NZL

General interest

Nicknames
Hurricane Hannah, Han, Rocketwoman, Pippy Long Stocking [because she wears long striped socks and ties her hair in bunches when she races]. (Facebook profile, 26 Nov 2019; Athlete, 06 Dec 2010)
Memorable sporting achievement
Breaking her first world record in 2010 in Knowsley, England. (paralympic.org, 03 Feb 2016)
Most influential person in career
Her family. (hannahcockroft.co.uk, 27 Aug 2018; passionatepeople.invacare.eu.com, 01 Jan 2018)
Hero / Idol
Her father, and Canadian wheelchair racer Chantal Petitclerc. (paralympic.org, 11 Oct 2015)
Superstitions / Rituals / Beliefs
Her nails have to match the colour of her kit. She has lucky underwear and socks, and also eats jelly before each race. (hannahcockroft.co.uk, 27 Aug 2018; telegraph.co.uk, 10 Jul 2017)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"Just breathe and believe." (Facebook profile, 26 Nov 2019)
Awards and honours
She was named the 2019 Disability Sportswoman of the Year at the Leeds Sports Awards in England. (Facebook page, 01 Mar 2020)

She was named the 2017 Sportswoman of the Year by the British Sports Journalists' Association [SJA]. (telegraph.co.uk, 06 Dec 2017)

She was named the 2017 Great Britain's Disability Sportswoman of the Year at the Sunday Times Sportswomen of the Year awards. (paralympic.org, 27 Oct 2017)

She was named the 2015 Paralympic Athlete of the Year by the British Athletics Writers' Association. (athleticsweekly.com, 13 Nov 2015)

She was named the 2014 Paralympic Athlete of the Year by British Athletics. (uka.org.uk, 2014)

She was named the 2013 Female Paralympic Athlete of the Year by the British Sports Journalists' Association [SJA]. (Facebook page, 21 Aug 2019)

In January 2013 she was named Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire [MBE]. (paralympic.org, 28 Feb 2013)

She received an award for Paralympic Performance of the Year in 2010 and 2011 from UK Athletics. (Facebook page, 21 Aug 2019)
Famous relatives
Her partner Nathan Maguire has represented Great Britain in Para athletics, winning one gold medal and three bronze medals at the 2018 European Championships in Berlin, Germany. (SportsDeskOnline, 09 Oct 2019; sportindustry.biz, 20 Sep 2019)
Ambitions
To win two gold medals at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. (yorkshirepost.co.uk, 22 Dec 2019)
Impairment
She has cerebral palsy after experiencing two cardiac arrests at birth that damaged two areas of her brain. She has weak hips, underdeveloped feet and legs, as well as problems with mobility and balance. "Doctors told my parents I would never be able to do anything my whole life and wouldn't live past my teenage years." (independent.co.uk, 25 Aug 2012; dailymail.co.uk, 24 Aug 2012)
Other information
MOVE TO CHESHIRE
In 2019 she relocated from Halifax to Cheshire in England, so she could be closer to her training base at Kirby High School in Liverpool. The catalyst for the move was having to settle for silver in the T34 100m at the 2018 European Championships in Berlin, Germany. "It definitely helped, not the living in Chester bit, but just having people to train with. I spent 12 years going round Spring Hall track [in Halifax] pretty much on my own, and it got to a point where you can't really challenge yourself. When you're training on your own you think you're going 100%, but actually you're going about 80%. When someone's next to you, it really pushes you that little bit harder. It returned a bit of the fun to the sport for me, made it a bit more social rather than just going to work, and showed me what I'd been missing a bit by doing those laps on my own in Halifax." (yorkshirepost.co.uk, 22 Dec 2019)

LONDON MEDIA EXPOSURE
She believes the 'Meet the Superhumans' advert used by the Channel 4 television company in Great Britain ahead of the 2012 Paralympic Games has been a double-edged sword for people with an impairment. "Ultimately I love the Superhuman idea, the concept of it is fantastic but it kind of got stretched out so much that it wasn't just about the Paralympians, it was about everyone in the disabled community. After London 2012 I had people approaching me in the street saying, 'My life is horrible now because of what you've done, people come and ask me why are you not the next world beater, why are you claiming benefits and not getting a job.' To have real people coming to you and saying that - we thought as Paralympians we were changing the world for the better but we actually made a lot of people's lives a lot more difficult. You know nobody looks at an able-bodied person walking down the street and goes, 'Oh that's the next Usain Bolt', but everyone looks at a person in a wheelchair or an amputee and goes, 'Why are you not racing against Jonnie Peacock?'" (skysports.com, 07 Nov 2019)

TELEVISION WORK
She hopes to work on television once her sporting career is over, and in 2018 she presented a show called Countryfile. "I am just trying to grab the opportunities that I can and build as much of a network up as I can while still focusing on my athletics. What I found through thinking about the future was a new motivation to realise how lucky I am and how privileged a position I'm currently in. It's quite nice to have that distraction. It's quite nice not to be totally obsessed with the next championships that are coming up." (lovesportradio.com, 04 Mar 2019; yorkshirepost.co.uk, 26 Aug 2018, 12 May 2018)

Results

Unit Date Rank
2011 IPC Athletics World Championships (Christchurch, New Zealand)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 200 m T34 Final 2011-01-22 1
Women's 100 m T34 Final 2011-01-24 1
London 2012 Paralympic Games (London, Great Britain)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 100 m T34 Heat 2 2012-08-31 1
Women's 100 m T34 Final Round 2012-08-31 1
Women's 200 m T34 Heat 2 2012-09-06 1
Women's 200 m T34 Final Round 2012-09-06 1
IPC Athletics World Championships (Lyon, France)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 200 m T34 Final 1 2013-07-20 1
Women's 100 m T34 Final 1 2013-07-22 1
IPC Athletics 2015 World Championships (Doha, Qatar)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 100 m T34 Final 1 2015-10-22 1
Women's 800 m T34 Final 1 2015-10-28 1
Women's 400 m T34 Final 1 2015-10-31 1
Rio 2016 Paralympic Games (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 100 m T34 Final Round 2016-09-10 1
Women's 400 m T34 Final Round 2016-09-14 1
Women's 800 m T34 Final Round 2016-09-16 1
World Para Athletics Championships London 2017 (London, Great Britain)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 100 m T34 Final 1 2017-07-14 1
Women's 800 m T34 Final 1 2017-07-17 1
Women's 400 m T34 Final 1 2017-07-20 1