How Hannah Cockroft justified honour of captaining Paralympics GB with double Tokyo gold

Seven-time Paralympic champion Hannah Cockroft thought her time as Paralympic GB athletics captain had ended after Rio 2016.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 8th December 2021, 4:55 pm
TOGold medalist Hannah Cockroft of Team Great Britain celebrates during the medal ceremony for the Women's 800m - T34 Final on day 11 of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 4, 2021 in Tokyo (Picture: Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
TOGold medalist Hannah Cockroft of Team Great Britain celebrates during the medal ceremony for the Women's 800m - T34 Final on day 11 of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 4, 2021 in Tokyo (Picture: Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

But the Halifax-born athlete was honoured to be reinstated as co-captain alongside Aled Davies for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics this summer.

Cockroft, 29, successfully defended her T34 100m and 800m wheelchair racing titles out in Tokyo to showcase what it meant to her to be a leader and inspire others.

“To be captain of the athletics team and especially to be voted for that by your team-mates is just a massive honour,” said Cockroft at the recent Sports Journalists Association’ British Sports Awards in London.

Hannah Cockroft of Team Great Britain celebrates winning the gold medal and breaking the paralympic record after competing in the Women's 800m. (Picture: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

“To lead a team that was an equal mix of very new faces and very experienced faces, and to lead them into such a historic Olympics was a massive 
privilege.

“I was captain in 2016 so I thought that was my turn done but I got to go out there and do it again.”

In a year and a half of uncertainty and no crowds to cheer on the athletes, Cockroft was more than happy to be a part of the Tokyo Games and lead a team filled with gratitude.

“Honestly it was the nicest team I’ve been a part of because everyone was just genuinely so happy to be there,” she added.

“Sometimes there’s a little bit of jealousy around the team but this time there wasn’t as everyone had worked so hard to get this far and that was amazing to be a part of.”

To justify her second stint as a team captain, the Leeds City Athletics Club member went on the defend her titles on the track as well, breaking her own world record in the 100m in a time of 16.39 seconds.

“I don’t think it could have gone much better. Obviously, I broke the world record in the 100m which was massive for me and to do that time was a dream,” said Cockroft.

“I Just missed the world record in the 800m but with the injury I sustained, to get that close was absolutely fantastic.”

In a moment of blood, sweat and tears, Cockroft picked up an injury in her 800m warm-up after her hand slipped through the spokes of her wheelchair.

Bandaged and bruised, the title of champion was still unable to escape her mind, as she took almost 12 seconds off her own Paralympic record set five years ago in Rio.

“I think that anyone knew what to expect out there, so to get out and do what I set out to do just felt like a massive achievement,” added Cockroft, who won two golds at the London Paralympics and three in Rio four years later.

Returning home, Cockroft’s gratitude extended beyond that of the sport and into the 
welcome she received in her home county.

“To get that welcome home when we missed that experience out in Tokyo was massively important,” she said of the Team Yorkshire Homecoming event in October.

“We always want to be the absolute best and we show that every time we go out to an Olympic or Paralympic Games.

“Yorkshire always brings it home.”