Hannah Cockroft’s medal sights are on Tokyo and no further

Great Britain's Hannah Cockroft celebrates winning gold in the Women's 100m T34 Final at the Olympic Stadium, London in 2012 (Picture: David Davies/PA Wire).
Great Britain's Hannah Cockroft celebrates winning gold in the Women's 100m T34 Final at the Olympic Stadium, London in 2012 (Picture: David Davies/PA Wire).
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AT just 24 years old, Halifax wheelchair racer Hannah Cockroft already has five Paralympic golds.

At the current rate of progress, swimmer-turned-cycling star Dame Sarah Storey’s record haul of 14 golds would be under threat.

But Cockroft is refusing to look any further than the Tokyo 2020 Games admitting Storey’s record-breaking feat looks more than safe for the time being.

‘Hurricane Hannah’ will have three extra reasons to celebrate this Christmas after a superb hat-trick of gold medals at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

Four years after topping the London 2012 podium in both the 100m and 200m in her T34 classification, Cockroft showed admirable versatility to win new events at 400m and 800m in Rio, as well as defending her title in the shortest distance of all.

The Leeds City Athletics Club star already has her eyes on next year’s World Championships in London – whatever distances are required of her.

Cockroft insists she has had no thoughts about going the distance in terms of bidding to surpass the British record feat of Storey.

Cockroft has 15 years in hand on 39-year-old Storey with six medals to her name, but getting closer to double figures in Tokyo is the Halifax star’s only aim.

Assessing the chances of one day becoming Britain’s most decorated Paralympian, Cockroft told The Yorkshire Post: “Sarah Storey broke that record and I think she is now on 14 golds. That’s quite a lot.

“I am only looking right now at Tokyo and I am not sure what is going to happen beyond that and I can’t really go from five to 14 in one Games. That would be really tough.

“I just want to go out and want to win any event that is on offer to me. I will put everything I can into doing that and see how it goes.

“I am back in training now already and we have got the World Championships in London in July.

“I am not 100 per cent sure what events I have on offer there, but I will be going for as many golds as I can.

“To get back in front of a home crowd and back in the London stadium will again be an incredible experience.

“I am looking forward to that and then whatever comes on the way to Tokyo it comes. But Tokyo 2020 is the next big aim.”

First, though, comes an opportunity to relax over Christmas – with Cockroft on a gap year from her degree in journalism at Coventry University and having recently moved back home with mother and father, Rachel and Graham, in Mount Tabor.

The Paralympian’s brothers Joshua and Daniel live in Finland and Pennsylvania, respectively, and for Joshua in particular this coming Christmas will see the achievements of his younger sister really hit home.

Cockroft explained: “All the family is coming back and one of my brothers, Josh, hasn’t even seen my medals from Rio yet.

“I saw him two days before I flew out to Rio – that’s the only time I have seen him this year so, hopefully, it’s something nice for him to come back to.”

In all likelihood, further medals will be added to the collection in 2017 with Cockroft already counting down the days to next year’s London Worlds – and whatever events the International Paralympic Committee throw at her. Be it 100m, 200m, 400m or 800m, Cockroft has won them all.

“I am hoping we will get the one, four and eight,” said Cockroft. “If they throw a two in there that would be fantastic because I love the two but it’s always hard to say.

“The International Paralympic Committee have to look at participation numbers and whether it’s worth having that many events.

“We had a small classification in Rio, simply because some of the girls got ill and pulled out. We’ll just have to see but, hopefully, they will give me a good three or four chances to up my medal tally!”

Pieces of the original London 2012 track have been made into a range of exclusive sporting memorabilia and are available to purchase from london2012track.com.