Hannah taking ‘massive risk’

Hannah Cockroft goes over the line to the 100m Women T33/34  Final '(Photo by Kieran Galvin/CameraSport) ''International Athletics - Sainsbury's Anniversary Games - Sainsbury??s International Para Challenge - Queen Elizabeth Park - Day 3 - Sunday 28th July 2013''� CameraSport/Kieran Galvin - 43 Linden Ave. Countesthorpe. Leicester. England. LE8 5PG - Tel: +44 (0) 116 277 4147 - admin@camerasport.com - www.camerasport.com
Hannah Cockroft goes over the line to the 100m Women T33/34 Final '(Photo by Kieran Galvin/CameraSport) ''International Athletics - Sainsbury's Anniversary Games - Sainsbury??s International Para Challenge - Queen Elizabeth Park - Day 3 - Sunday 28th July 2013''� CameraSport/Kieran Galvin - 43 Linden Ave. Countesthorpe. Leicester. England. LE8 5PG - Tel: +44 (0) 116 277 4147 - admin@camerasport.com - www.camerasport.com

For an athlete accustomed to winning nearly every race she enters, you’d think risk and worry would not be two words much used in Hannah Cockcroft’s vocabulary.

But with the chance to go for an unprecedented hat-trick of gold medals at this year’s IPC Athletics World Championships, the 22-year-old admits the pressure is on.

Arguably one of the most dominant athletes in wheelchair racing, Cockcroft has scooped up no fewer than eight senior major international titles.

All but two of them have come in the T34 100m and 200m, with double titles coming at the 2011 and 2013 World Championships either side of her unforgettable pair of gold medals at London 2012.

She completed the full set of medals last year when she took European titles in Swansea – in the 100m but also the 800m.

And it is in the latter in which the Halifax racer predicts her toughest challenge will arise when she takes to the track in Doha for the World Championships in October.

“For the first time this year I actually get to go for triple world champion. I actually have three events,” she said.

“So in the 100m and 200m, I’m feeling fairly confident but the 800 is a massive risk for me.

“It’s a massive kind of worry point. This is not about sheer power or strength. This is about who can think the quickest, who can sit in the right place on the track and who basically is the cleverest racer.

“My aim is to break a world record because breaking a world record for me is a personal best. It means I’m getting faster and I’m getting better.

“Especially in the eight, my target this year is to go two minutes. My world record currently is 2:02 which is one that I set not in a pack so I pushed it completely on my own.

“So hopefully if the other girls are up to the speed I think they should be, then we’ll have a good pack to work with and hopefully we can go a little faster.

“But at the end of the day, everyone remembers medals and not times so that is the goal for this year.”

At the same time as chasing her first ever haul of three golds at a major championships, Cockcroft will also be racing in the knowledge that a top-two finish in any distance will qualify Paralympics GB a place at Rio 2016.

And Cockcroft, who will compete in the latest IPC Athletics Grand Prix in Nottwil, Switzerland, at the end of this month, is fully prepared for the battle ahead.

“If I manage to win gold at the World Championships in Doha, then I will already have secured a place on the team for Rio,” she added.

“But if not then I will have to keep fighting. So this year is really important. It’s really scary but so far so good and hopefully it will keep going onwards and upwards.

“We’re now heading out to Switzerland. Aside from the World Championships later this year, Switzerland is the biggest race we’ve got. Every single wheelchair racer will be there, which is exciting.”

Hannah Cockroft is a BT Ambassador. BT is a long-term supporter of disability sport in the UK.