DOUBLE Paralympic champion Hannah Cockroft is determined to prove she’s more than just a sprinter at the IPC Athletics European Championships in Swansea as she tackles the 800m as well.
Cockroft won gold in both the 100m and 200m at London 2012, following it up with the same double at the World Championships a year later.
But the 22-year-old is not shy of a challenge despite her dominance and has been combining her new life as a student at Coventry University with a new training discipline in the 800m.
Cockroft has raced over 800m this season more than ever before and admits she’s nervous about possibly not winning over two laps of the track – a feeling she’s not been used to in recent years.
“It’s been a tough eight months – starting university and starting to race a whole new distance, which includes new training methods as well,” she said.
“It has been a lot of fun at the same time though and I’m excited to see if it’s paid off. It’s nice to have that challenge because for so long I’ve been able to go into races and be so confident that there’s no-one who can touch me.
“But now the adrenaline has come back because I’m worried and I know that the girls are a lot closer in the 800m and there’s a possibility I can be beaten.
“That adds the excitement back to racing so I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of battle will commence.
“It’s nice to have a new challenge and to be able to go out and show people that I can do more than just push in a straight line – I can actually think while I’m racing.”
The European Championships form part of the Sainsbury’s Summer Series and Cockroft starts her week in Swansea in familiar territory, hoping to add the European 100m title to her CV on Tuesday.
And she’s bullish of her chances of victory in her favoured event but holding the world records for all distances up to 800m suggests she’d be reasonably safe to predict victory in any event she enters.
The European Championships also give Cockroft the opportunity to compete in front of a home crowd once again – something making the 540-mile round journey from Halifax worthwhile.
“It is nice to have (the Championships) in Swansea – it’s still a home games and it means my family can come down and watch,” she added.
“It means the people who watched us in London, or wanted to, can come and see us and it will be great to have that home support again.
“It makes a competition so special to have that support because the people there know who you are and they want you to do well.
“The more we stage these major events in the UK the better because more people will come and see us, we’ll get more coverage and that’s how the sport grows.”
Sainsbury’s is proud to support British Athletics through the Summer Series events and is committed to helping young people lead healthier, more active lifestyles. For more information visit www.sainsburys.co.uk/legacy