Han­nah Cock­roft’s sum­mer plans

WHEEL­CHAIR RACER HAS DEALT WITH RE­CLAS­SI­FI­CA­TION IS­SUES LATELY

Athletics Weekly - - News -

HAN­NAH COCK­ROFT is ready to put re­cent dis­trac­tions be­hind her as she aims for An­niver­sary Games and Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships suc­cess this sum­mer, writes Jes­sica Whit­ting­ton.

Ath­letes in a range of sport classes – in­clud­ing Cock­roft’s T34 cat­e­gory – have been re­quired to go through a re­view fol­low­ing a re­vi­sion of World Para Ath­let­ics’ clas­si­fi­ca­tion rules ear­lier this year, while the five-time Par­a­lympic gold medal­list also had the un­cer­tainty of not know­ing which, if any, of her events she would be able to con­test at the Euro­peans in Ber­lin in Au­gust.

Cock­roft went through clas­si­fi­ca­tion in Switzer­land last month ahead of com­pet­ing in Not­twil, where she went close to her 200m world record with a time of 30.56 and also raced in the 100m, 400m and 800m – other dis­tances for which she holds the world records.

“I recorded some pretty con­sis­tent and fast times so I was happy, but no world records or PBs came out of it which is a rar­ity for Switzer­land,” she says.

“I went through clas­si­fi­ca­tion again in Switzer­land and it was a mas­sive dis­trac­tion. It adds a lot of stress and pres­sure to the ath­letes go­ing through it, not in the way that ‘I might not be what I say I am’ but when you go in that room you have no idea what they are go­ing to ask you to do, what they are test­ing. It is quite a daunt­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

“That added a lot of pres­sure in Switzer­land and I do think that was one of the rea­sons why I maybe didn’t per­form to the usual stan­dard of per­sonal bests and world records fall­ing ev­ery­where, but that’s done, that’s out the way, and now I can move on from that.

“Hope­fully the fact that all the T30 classes are go­ing through it will stop peo­ple talk­ing,” she adds. “We’ve got new and im­proved tests, they are so thor­ough in the process. Hope­fully now peo­ple will ac­cept that what they see is real.

“It’s hard work, it’s ded­i­ca­tion, it’s a long time in the mak­ing – it’s not just a fluke and we are all what we say we are. As much as it is a hor­ri­ble process to have to be put through, I think only pos­i­tives can come from it and it can re­ally prove the strength of para sport.”

Cock­roft is hop­ing to help prove that strength first at the Müller An­niver­sary Games, where she’ll race the 100m on July 22, and then the World Para Ath­let­ics Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships, where en­try num­bers will de­ter­mine whether a T34 800m is held as well as the 100m com­pe­ti­tion.

“We all know that the 100m and 800m are sched­uled but it all comes down to en­tries,” she ex­plains. “The rules are you’ve got to have five com­peti­tors from three dif­fer­ent na­tions.”

Look­ing ahead to the An­niver­sary Games, which will see Cock­roft back in the Lon­don Sta­dium where last year she took her world gold medal tally to 10, she adds: “It’s a mas­sive op­por­tu­nity. You want to re­ally make the most of that and go out and make peo­ple fall in love with what you do.

“You want to in­spire peo­ple and get more peo­ple in­ter­ested in para sport.”

Han­nah Cock­roft: aim­ing for An­niver­sary Games and Euro­pean

Cham­pi­onships

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