Hannah Cockcroft is a truly inspirational athlete. Within two hours of her birth she suffered two cardiac arrests which left her with damage to two parts of her brain and with weakness and deformity in her legs and hips. The Doctors told her parents that she would never be able to walk. A strong and determined set of parents and an equally determined Hannah wanted to prove everyone wrong and following on from years of therapy she was able to take her first steps. Hannah was able to attend mainstream school and it was whilst at school that her love of sport started.
Hannah competed in the school wheelchair games and won a silver medal at the seated discus event. It was whilst competing in these championships that she was introduced to Dr Ian Thompson (husband of Para Olympian legend Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson) who introduced her to wheelchair racing and then to quote her website “the rest was history”.
Since then Hannah has gone on to win numerous European and World Championship titles and medals, multiple Paralympic medals and she has Tokyo 2020 as her next target for yet more gold medals. In an interview this week she said that when she started she didn’t have much competition and people said she was only winning because there was no one close to her standard. As time has gone on this isn’t the case any more and the younger athletes are coming through and inspiring Hannah to train and keep working so she can continue winning medals and titles.
In 2013 Hannah was awarded the MBE for services to athletics. I remember seeing Hannah compete at the London 2012 Paralympics in the T34 100 metres and claim gold. What do I remember most, not just the margin that she won by but the huge smile that was so clear to see as she completed her victory lap. Definitely one of my 2012 memories.
To be able to compete at such a high level for so long takes real determination and dedication and Hannah manages to do this in such a personable way and always with a smile on her face. I am sure that she she must have inspired so many athletes to take up sport and then beyond to their own personal goals. Long may her dream of competing and winning more gold medals continue and her legacy to inspire others will go on and on. Whilst researching this I was struck by Hannah’s favourite phrase – “Those afraid of pain will never know glory” explains why she has done so well. To read more about Hannah she has a really interesting website.
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