“Not only is it a fantastic event that will give me the opportunity to test myself against some of the finest athletes in the world, but it also means that London 2012 is literally just around the corner.
British wheelchair racers David Weir and Hannah Cockroft believe May’s BT Paralympic World Cup is an invaluable opportunity to hone their skills before the second- biggest show on earth descends on these shores.
The celebrated pair will take to the Manchester Regional Arena track on 22 May, with Weir competing in the T53/54 400m and 800m and Cockroft will in the 100m T34 competition.
Weir ready to trounce rivals
Thirty-two-year-old Weir, who took two golds in his four-medal haul at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, will return to the competition for the first time since 2010.
“Not only is it a fantastic event that will give me the opportunity to test myself against some of the finest athletes in the world, but it also means that London 2012 is literally just around the corner,” Weir told BT.
“All of the hard work over the last four years culminates this summer and I'm determined not to let the opportunity slip past me. I’ve got a huge opportunity to win a gold medal in my home Games and I'm determined to make the most out of what is most definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
The London native is preparing for the Cup with a tough wheelchair test against rivals Marcel Hug and Kurt Fearnley in Switzerland the weekend prior to the event.
Many expected Hug to be the dominant force in the T54 competition at last year’s IPC Athletics World Championships in New Zealand, however it was Weir who turned heads, winning gold in the 800m, 1,500m and 5,000m distances.
Hug had to settle for silver in all three events.
“If I can put in a performance to be proud of at the BT Paralympic World Cup, then who knows what can happen in London,” Weir said.
Weir, who has won the London Marathon five times, will face Fearnley in the long-distance event in London, who is unbeaten in the distance in every major championships since 2004.
Young Cockroft hopes to rock Manchester
Hoping she can draw from Weir’s experience of competing in Manchester, 19-year-old Cockroft will be making her World Cup debut in May.
Cockroft took double gold at the 2011 World Championships and holds world records in the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m T34 events.
“I’m hoping to build on the hard work I’ve been putting into training and really getting myself into the perfect position for the Paralympic Games,” Cockroft told BT.
“I had a great training camp out in Australia and while it was by no means easy all the time, and there were plenty of hard times, I feel it’s helped me no end and I’ll soon start to see the benefits.”
This year marks the eighth edition of the World Cup, which will also include competition in Football 7-a-Side and Wheelchair Basketball, as well as international matches in Boccia and Sitting Volleyball.