Athletics

Hurricane Hannah hoping for more success

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Hannah Cockroft MBE is one of the most well-loved British athletes of modern times.

The two time London Paralympics gold medallist stole the nations hearts when aged just 20, she destroyed the opposition to record 100 and 200 metres glory.

The young Yorkshire lass is now balancing her time though, as she is almost a year into her University experience down in Coventry.

"I thrive on pressure" she explained in an exclusive interview. "I never have a day with nothing to do, but I like being busy. It's just sometimes it can get a little overwhelmingly busy!"

The 21-year-old is studying Media and Journalism in the Midlands, a remarkable achievement considering the pressures that athletics puts on her life.

"Wheelchair racing always comes first, University and my studies after that. I'm only in my first year, and at points it's been tough, but I'm doing well here, so hopefully I've found the right balance and I can battle on, because it will be so worth it in the end."

Should Cockroft complete her three year course, she will become the first athlete to retain world champion status and get a degree, a feat which will make her even more remarkable.

She has yet another busy year ahead of her, with the pinnacle for Hannah being the European Championships in Swansea this summer.

"We have new distances this year, so I trade my 200m for the 800m which is a huge challenge. European Champion is the one title I don't yet hold so I'd like to complete my roster this year."

Completing a clean sweep at her age would be an incredible feat, but one she no doubt has in her locker. But, no matter how she fares in that, it will not top the Indian Summer of 2012, when Cockroft became Team GB's most loved athlete after her double glory. 

"The Paralympics changed my life beyond recognition. Before then, I was an ordinary girl, who got up, trained, saw her friends and went back to bed. After the games, I travelled the country, met my idols, got invited to the most amazing events such as a garden party at Buckingham Palace and the National Television Awards and I really got a taste of a 'celebrity' lifestyle."

One can only imagine just how surreal it must be to be hailed in front of 80,000 people, and Cockroft still can't find the words to sum up both crossing the line, and being unveiled as champion.

"I think they're feelings that words cannot describe, as they don't do it justice. Crossing the line was an overwhelming sense of relief, but also sadness, that what I'd worked so hard for four years, was now over.

"Being on the podium was an overwhelming sense of achievement, it's when it all started to feel real. They were both just amazing moments."

Prior to the 2012 Games, the buzz word was "LEGACY." The organisers and media wanted a legacy to be left on future generations of Brits, and tried to do this with more money being poured into sports.

Since then however, there's been much made of how the legacy they aimed for, hasn't materialised.

"I think a lot more people are interested in getting active and involved with sport after seeing the success of both the Olympic and Paralympic Games" Hannah continued.

"For disabled people, even more so. A lot more doors and gateways have been opened to make Paralympic sport more accessible for people to try.

"It's made a lot more people understanding of disability and has made Britain, just ever so slightly, more wheelchair friendly."

Hannah also revealed her one piece of advice to any disabled youngsters looking to follow her path to sporting success: "Try anything you get given the opportunity to do. You never know what you'll fall in love with and where a hobby will take you."

Affectionately nicknamed 'Pippy Long Stockings' after the fictional character, Cockroft's one ambition in life (according to her website) is clear. "To be irreplaceable."

To Paralympic sport in Britain, and to thousands who see her as a role-model, she already is.

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Topics:
Athletics
Olympics

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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