Paralympic superstar Hannah Cockroft on ‘scary’ Tokyo 2020 incident and her next target

Tokyo marks end of Paralympics as Team GB scoop 124 medals

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It’s the off-season for Hannah Cockroft now after a whirlwind summer which saw her take home two more Paralympic gold medals, taking her overall tally to seven since bursting onto the scene at London 2012. Add those to her dominance in the World Para Athletics Championships and she’s sitting on an astonishing 19 golds.

But the 29-year-old British Paralympian from West Yorkshire hasn’t even begun to fathom her incredible achievements.

“I don’t think I’ve really thought about Tokyo and what happened out there,” she told Express Sport.

“Someone said to me before, ‘you do realise you’ve now never lost a Paralympic final’ and I just thought that’s kind of cool.

“I don’t know if any athletes can say that. The medals come out and people ask to see them but I haven’t really spent much time with my family or anything. Tokyo feels like it was six years ago already.”

None of her gold medals are on display in her house though as Cockroft admits they’re stored away at her parents house.

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There’s no plan to stop on 19 though with the ParalympicsGB co-captain from this summer admitting she wants to round that up to a “nice 21 next year”.

But there was every chance that Cockroft’s Tokyo 2020 journey could have come to an abrupt and painful early end.

In her final practice session before the 800m T34 race, Cockroft was struggling to decide on which gloves to use in the torrential rain.

That decision almost cost her dearly as her hand slipped and went through the spokes of her chair in a fightening moment.

Thankfully for Cockroft, a coach was able to help stop her chair before even more damage was done, but it certainly gave her a shock.

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“It was scary because one of the American girls had done exactly the same thing before and she ended up in a wrist brace and her Games were done,” she said.

“It was one of those stupid things where I obviously train in the rain all the time but we had trained so hard to be ready for the heat and ready for the sun but it just rained for like two weeks.

“Luckily it went the right way but it could have been a lot nastier.”

Cockroft still went on to smash her own Paralympic record in the 800m final – also taking a world record in the 100m.

And there was certainly some bitter disappointment at not being able to share her moment with family, friends and a huge crowd inside Japan’s National Stadium.

“It was hard. When I crossed the finish line in the 100, I just cried because I’ve potentially just had my last race because you never know when you’re last race is going to be,” she added.

“I’ve just broken the world record, I’ve just done something I never thought I would be able to do and there’s nobody here.

“Your family can ring you and they can celebrate down FaceTime with you, but it’s not the same at all.”

She will be hoping for that to be rectified next year when Japan plays host to the World Paras, while the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham will host her event for the first time in her career.

“I’m just so hopeful next year we can have that crowd and everyone that was going to go to Tokyo can have another chance,” she finished.

HANNAH COCKROFT MBE SPOKE ON BEHALF OF MÜLLERLIGHT. AS 7 TIME PARALYMPIC CHAMPION AND 5 TIME WORLD RECORD HOLDER, HANNAH PROVES THAT YOU REALLY CAN HAVE IT ALL. MÜLLERLIGHT SMOOTH TOFFEE IS LOW FAT, HIGH PROTEIN, 0% ADDED SUGAR AND MÜLLERLICIOUS

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