The double Paralympic champion hopes that the precedent set in London will see the Games continue to flourish next summer
Hannah Cockroft is hopeful that the Paralympics in Rio in 2016 will continue the trend set by the hugely popular 2012 Games in London.
Cockroft has become a household name in British sport since winning the T34 wheelchair 100m and 200m double in London, along with the likes of fellow track stars Jonnie Peacock and David Weir.
The Paralympic Games in 2012 were the biggest in the competition’s history, with 4237 athletes from 164 nations competing, up from 3951 from 146 nations in Beijing four years previous.
A record of 2.7 million tickets were sold, with most sessions proving to be a sell-out, and Cockroft is positive that the precedent set in London will see the Games next summer continue to flourish.
“The way I see it being built up on social media, on the internet or in the papers is that I actually think that Rio will fill quite a good crowd,” she said.
“I think they’ll put bums on seats and get people in there who are genuinely interested in what we’re doing and also because of the stuff off the back of London, I think people will travel to watch us.
“I truly believe that people are that interested now that they’ll follow us around the world to see what we’re doing,” she added.
“I’d be disappointed if we get there and we have a crowd like the Beijing Games where there’s just thousands of school children shipped in who don’t know what’s going on. That would be a step backwards for the Paralympic movement.”
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) president Sir Philip Craven declared the 2012 Paralympics as “the greatest Paralympic Games ever,” and Cockroft acknowledges that comparisons with London will make it impossible for any subsequent Paralympics to top 2012.
“From talking to other athletes, every Paralympics is going to feel completely different. We can never compare Rio to London because London is never going to be beaten in any British athlete’s head,” she said.
“We were at a home Games, and for me I won two gold medals at a home Games. Nothing will ever beat that and it was absolutely sensational. I doubt that Rio will ever live up to it but I guess we’ll have to wait and see. I still have to get there first!”
» To read more from AW’s interview with Hannah Cockroft, see the September 10 edition of Athletics Weekly magazine