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Hannah Cockroft feeling confident before going for 10th Para Athletics gold

2017-07-20 16:18:51 | Author:Jacob Steinberg | Source:the Guardian
Abstract:According to Hannah Cockroft, there is no clear winner at the start of a T34 race any more but perhaps that was just the magnanimity talking.

 Hannah Cockroft is racing in the T34 400m final 
 ‘I’m feeling pretty confident – the 400m is my favourite event’

Hannah Cockroft celebrates winning the 800m T34. Photograph: Mark Kerton/Action Plus via Getty Images

For the time being any sense of competitiveness is nothing more than an illusionwhenever a wheelchair race features Cockroft. No matter how much the discipline’s outstanding force insists otherwise, and no matter how desperately her rivals try to close the gap, the truth is she remains unbeatable. Watching her cross the line first is one of the surest things in sport, up there with Rafael Nadal winning a tennis match on clay.

Cockroft has never lost a race at a major championship and that is unlikely to change at the London Stadium on Thursday, when the 24-year-old from Halifax will attempt to create further history by claiming her 10th title at the World ParaAthletics Championships.

Some athletes in Cockroft’s position might have struggled to maintain their hunger. She has been so far ahead of the competition for so long that it would be understandable if her momentum stalled, causing the flow of gold to slow down.


Yet she sounded as motivated as ever after winning the T34 800m on Monday night. Another box ticked, Cockroft was already looking forward to Thursday night’s 400m final. “Lucky 10 on Thursday,” she said. “I’m feeling pretty confident. The 400m is my favourite event.”

It would be fitting if Cockroft, who has cerebral palsy, achieves her target at the stadium where her path towards stardom began. It was at London 2012 when she announced herself to the world by winning 100m and 200m golds on her Paralympic debut, and she opened this championship by breaking the world record in the 100m last Friday night.

Cockroft has gone to great lengths to big up the pretenders to the throne in the T34 class. True, her win in the 800m three days ago was not as resounding as she might have anticipated. She started surprisingly slowly and later revealed that she had worked in improvisational tandem with her young British team‑mate Kare Adenegan, who came out of the blocks quickly.

Those team tactics worked in Cockroft’s favour, allowing her to blaze past the USA’s Alexa Halko once Adenegan’s speed dropped off.

Halko won silver, Adenegan took bronze. Both will be on the track on Thursday, hoping that they can pull off the unthinkable. Cockroft may even feel a few nerves. She can be edgy at the start of a big race but it is still hard to imagine anything stopping her. Not yet.

Kinghorn shows the way

Sammi Kinghorn reflected on her “darkest days” after claiming her second medal of the championships on Wednesday’s sixth day of competition.

Wheelchair racer Kinghorn won T53 200 metres gold on Saturday – one of 11 gold medals for the hosts in the first four days of competition – and added Britain’s 22nd medal with 400m bronze.

The 21-year-old was 14 and playing with friends on the snow at the family farm in the Scottish Borders when she was crushed by a forklift truck, resulting in her paralysis from the waist down.

Kinghorn reflected on the tragic accident in an interview before the championships.

“I appreciate my story,” said Kinghorn, who competed at the Rio Paralympics. “I can still remember the darkest days where you think you’re never going to get out of bed and you’re never going to amount to anything, because you’ve never met anyone in a wheelchair and you don’t know what life’s going to be like in a wheelchair.

“After I won gold in the 200, I lay in bed that night and was like ‘wow’. And I’m not that great at complimenting myself, but I did lie in bed that night and think ‘I’ve come really far’.

“And I just hope other people can see me out there that are going through horrible things like accidents and can think to themselves ‘get up and do something’, because life doesn’t end with something like that.”

Kinghorn dug deep to claim 400m bronze after making the most of her fast start. Zhou Hongzhuan of China won gold in 55.22sec, Chelsea McClammer of the US took silver in 55.50 and Kinghorn finished in 55.71 after holding off Australia’s Angela Ballard in a photofinish.

“I knew I had the strongest start, but I knew after that it was going to be tough,” Kinghorn said. “Fourth’s never a nice place to come, but I’d accepted that was probably where I was going to come; still two places better than Rio.”

After a barren day on Tuesday’s fifth day for Britain, Maria Lyle claimed T35 100m bronze. It was the 17-year-old Scot’s second bronze medal as she finished behind Australia’s Isis Holt, who won in a world record 13.43.

“I was preparing myself not to run, so to manage to finish both races and get a medal, I couldn’t ask for any more,” said Lyle.


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Hannah Cockroft