HALIFAX wheelchair racer Hannah Cockroft laid down the most impressive of London 2012 markers at the BT Paralympic World Cup – then insisted it would count for nothing if she does not repeat the trick this summer.
Cockroft, the 100m world record holder, was up against world No 2 Ben Jemaa Yousra for only the second time, in Manchester, having been pipped by the Tunisian last time out.
However, despite admitting to pre-race nerves about the size of the challenge, Cockroft made it look like she had been making a mountain out of a molehill, beating the Tunisian into second by fully three seconds.
With the 2012 Games countdown reaching the 100 days to go mark on Monday, Cockroft’s ruthless display could not have been better timed.
But without a repeat performance in the capital, the West Yorkshire medal prospect is well aware it will mean nothing.
“I really wanted a gold medal just to show to everyone here who has been supporting me that it’s worth it,” said Cockroft, who clocked 19.46 seconds.
“The competition was the top of the top. The world no 2 Yousra Ben Jemaa was here and I’ve only raced against her once and she beat me, so I was lining up beside her and I was a little bit scared she was going to do it again.
“But she was three seconds behind me which has put me in a good place, though you don’t want to get too confident.
“I knew I wasn’t going to get a world record here but I did what I needed to do. The only aim for us coming here was to win and I did that. I’m not bothered about the time – that will come.
“There’s only 99 days to go until London though, so I’ve still got a lot of work to do. It’s going well but I just need to do it all again in September.”
Cockroft’s world record was set in the Olympic Stadium earlier this month but she is itching to bag more this summer – if only to boost the bank balance.
And with a new nutrition and physio plan reaping rewards, Cockroft reckons further records are certainly within reach.
“The aim for 2012 was sub-18 and I hit that last week so I have pretty much done what I wanted to do for this season,” added Cockroft. “I’ve got to put my all into it. I think I’m in good shape, but someone could still emerge.”
n The BT Paralympic World Cup is taking place in Manchester from May 22-26 with elite international athletes competing in athletics, football 7-aside and wheelchair basketball. Go to www.btparalympicworldcup.com for more information.