Hannah Cockroft’s summer plans
WHEELCHAIR RACER HAS DEALT WITH RECLASSIFICATION ISSUES LATELY
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