Ten-time world champion Hannah Cockroft admits she is scared for the future with her international race calendar in limbo.
The 24-year-old is yet to discover what event she will race in during next year’s European Championships and will not go to the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia. She won three titles at the World Para Athletics Championships in London – the T34 100m, 400m and 800m – to add to her five Paralympic gold medals. Cockroft will have a race at the Europeans in Berlin but the International Paralympic Committee are yet to finalise the schedule and Cockroft also has a lack of depth in her classification.
And, ahead of the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo, Cockroft conceded the uncertainty in 2018 has left her concerned.
“It’s worrying and scary,” she said. “I don’t know if I’ve got an event in the Europeans and following that we don’t know where the next World Championships will be. There’s a big question mark leading up to Tokyo right now.
“I want to go on to Tokyo but next year is going to be a quiet one. I’ve not got an event in the Commonwealths unfortunately and I haven’t got a secure event in the Europeans yet because there’s the Brits and Netherlands and not many else. It makes it questionable whether I’ll have a race.
“If there is no race what do we aim for? I’m still not really sure. You have to rely on sponsors as well and if you can’t promise your sponsors any medals in that year because you have no event they’re going to walk away pretty quickly.
“That’s the worrying bit. If all my sponsors leave what am I going to do? How am I going to make a living this year? I am well supported and I have sponsors who have hung around through everything but not all the girls on my start line can say that. Not everyone on the team can say that.
“That’s pretty scary. As a Paralympic champion, a world champion, you’d never find that on the able-bodied side. I don’t think you’d ever find an Olympic champion thinking ‘oh, I’m struggling a bit here, all my sponsors are leaving’.
“You do have that threat in the back of the mind. Maybe if I end up having no Europeans maybe it’s time to go back to university and start planning for a ‘proper’ future. I don’t really want to do that quite yet.”