Hannah’s night to remember at SPOTY ceremony

Hannah Cockroft.'Sports Personality of the Year 2013.  First Direct Arena, Leeds.  (BR1001/65a) '15 December 2013.  Picture Bruce Rollinson
Hannah Cockroft.'Sports Personality of the Year 2013. First Direct Arena, Leeds. (BR1001/65a) '15 December 2013. Picture Bruce Rollinson

Calderdale’s golden girl Hannah Cockroft has said her nomination for the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year Award shows the legacy of the 2012 Paralympics is still going strong.

Hannah, the first Paralympian to be shortlisted for the prestigious accolade in a year which did not include the Paralympic Games, came seventh out of ten in the public poll on Sunday night, amassing more than 26,000 votes.

“I didn’t come last, which was great!” she said.

“I came seventh, which was a major step up for a Paralympian.

“I found it really shocking to have that support.

“It could be that the Paralympics legacy is still there, keeping it in the spotlight.”

The 21-year-old wheelchair racer from Mount Tabor, Halifax, attended the glittering ceremony at the First Direct Arena in Leeds and said it was a night she will always remember.

“It was a massive honour,” she said.

“I was in the same room as some of my heroes.”

The top prize went to tennis player Andy Murray, who was crowned Wimbledon champion in July.

British Lions rugby union player Leigh Halfpenny came second and jockey AP McCoy was third.

During the ceremony, Hannah talked about how training on the Calderdale moors near her home has helped her to become the world and Paralympic champion in the T34 100m and 200m.

Looking ahead to 2014, she will be flying out to Australia in January and then will be competing at the European Championships in Swansea.

“That’s the only title I don’t yet hold,” she said.

“If I can complete the set, I will be very proud.”

She also revealed that she will be moving up to compete in the 800m at the next Paralympic Games in Rio in 2016.

“It’s a massive new challenge for me,” she said.

There will be no time off over the festive period.

“I’ll be training on Christmas Day,” she said.

“It makes me feel good when I have that big dinner because I know I’ve worked it off.”

Hannah, who was awarded an MBE earlier this year, is often described as an inspirational figure but she said that still feels strange to her.

“People tell me I’m a role model but I don’t feel like one,” she said.

“I’m just really lucky to have a job that I really enjoy.

“But if I can provide motivation for them, that’s great and I’ll do what I can.

“If people can draw inspiration from what I do, it’s my job to keep doing it.

“There’s going to be some coming through to take my place in ten years’ time.

“That’s how the movement is going to keep going forward.”

One of Hannah’s first public appearances since the Sports Personality of the Year Award ceremony was attending Todmorden High School’s year seven celebration evening on Monday, at which she was the guest of honour.

During the event she made a special presentation to teenage wheelchair table tennis player Megan Shackleton, who is being tipped as a rising star.

“I truly believe that Megan will get to my position because the whole community will get behind her and help her to become a champion,” she said.

Megan, 14, said: “It’s amazing meeting Hannah.

“She’s such an inspiration for people like me.”