The legacy of two major championships on British soil within three years continues to reap dividends for athletes north of the border, writes Ruth Jones
Hannah Cockroft prepares for 800m major event debutAugust 16, 2014
Multiple world record-holder ready to continue her major champs dominance but this time over two laps of the track in Swansea
Hannah Cockroft says she is “feeling good” ahead of the IPC Athletics European Championships which get under way in Swansea on Monday.
The event gives the 22-year-old the opportunity to contest the 800m at a major event for the first time. Another first is that, despite her world and Paralympic experience which has so far seen her win a total of six global golds, Cockroft will be making her European debut in the Welsh city.
“I’m feeling good, I’m feeling strong. Preparations are going really well,” said the Halifax athlete. “These championships will be the first major event that I will race the 800m in because after London 2012 they took the 200m away from the T34 category and gave us the 800m. So it is a massive challenge. It’s something that is very much out of my comfort zone.”
Despite being the world record-holder for this event, as well as the 100m, 200m and 400m, Cockroft explained the challenges of the distance.
“I actually have to think about what I’m doing,” she said. “You’ve got to learnt to draft. You’ve got to learn to read where other people are going to go in the pack and where they’re going to move to and when they’re going to go so it has been a massive steep learning curve for me just trying to figure out how to think about all this and sprint at the same time.”
She leads the rankings with 2:02.87 from Indianapolis in June, with her team-mate and friend, Mel Nicholls, her closest rival for the European title.
“I feel like I can win in Swansea.” she said, ” but I think the person who will be closest to me is my team-mate Mel Nicholls. We’ve got very similar times in the 800m so really it will be about who has the best tactics on the day and whether it’s windy or not!”
Cockroft is continuing to juggle the two-lap event with the shortest sprint distance and hopes to contest both the 800m and the 100m at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio, though she knows it won’t be easy.
“At some point I might have to lose one and that’s never my plan,” she said. “I hope to go to go to Rio and win two gold medals but there’s a lot of girls coming through in our classification right now and they’re fast, so they’re a little bit scary for me!”
She added: “I feel like at the moment I’m fairly safe, I’ve learnt a lot. It’s been a tough season trying to sprint and do the middle distances but I guess we’ll see if it all comes together in Swansea.”
» Sainsbury’s is a proud sponsor of the GB & NI para-athletics team heading to Swansea for the IPC Athletics European Championships on August 18-23. Tickets: paralympic.org/swansea-2014/tickets