Cockroft is sprint queen as hard work pays off

Great Britain's Hannah Cockroft celebrates winning Gold
Great Britain's Hannah Cockroft celebrates winning Gold
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HALIFAX’S Hannah Cockroft powered to a Paralympic sprint double last night and insisted there is more to come.

Wheelchair racer Cockroft is dubbed the Rocketwoman for her turn of speed and her rivals would have needed to be fitted with jetpacks to catch her in the 200m.

Cockroft, who also won 100m gold, was two seconds quicker than her nearest rival in qualifying and dominated the final in similar fashion – flashing across the line in a Paralympic record of 31.90secs.

Holland’s Amy Siemons and Desiree Vranken completed the podium but Cockroft was effectively out of sight at the bend and powered down the home straight as a capacity Olympic Stadium again raised the roof for the Games’ British golden girl.

The British team handbook reports Cockroft’s motto is ‘refuse to lose’, a mantra she has certainly lived up to in recent days.

But four races, four wins and two medals is still a dream for the 20-year old, who also did the sprint double at last year’s World Championships in Christchurch.

“I was in doubt on that one, even my coach was worried even though it’s my best event,” said Cockroft, who admitted some regret she did not break the 31.23 world record she set in Indianapolis earlier this year.

“I knew they were coming to get me but I hit the fastest speed that I’ve hit for the entire Games.

“I can’t complain about a Paralympic record but it would have been nice to get a world record as well, but that’s just being greedy.

“I wanted the gold medal more though and I can get a world record any time. I’ve worked four years for this and I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life now.”

Cockroft’s hero is Canadian Chantal Petitclerc, who won 21 Paralympic medals, including 14 golds, in a career that covered five Games.

She now works with Petitclerc’s long-time coach Peter Eriksson and gets advice from the legendary athlete, who serves as a mentor to the British team.

“I would love to be the new Chantal, she’s my inspiration and idol,” she added.

“She got lucky because she competed in four events in every Games she competed at. If I beat her medal tally I’ll be going to the 2112 Olympics.

“I don’t think there’s anything special about me. I doubt myself a lot and I come across as confident and cocky but I’m really not.

“I just train really hard and I’ve given up my life for these two gold medals. I’ve been on a horrible diet for 18 months and the first thing I’m doing is breaking that.

“I’ve realised my ambition but I still think there is a lot more to come from me.”

Amputee sprinter Jonnie Peacock capped off a day of British brilliance as the host team raced past their London Games medal target with three days of competition still remaining.

The magic figure of 103 – one more than in Beijing – was achieved when swimmer Heather Frederiksen picked up her third medal of the meet, hitting the mark set by UK Sport when she finished second in the S8 100m freestyle.

But the day belonged to Peacock, fellow athletes David Weir and Cockroft, cyclist Sarah Storey and 15-year-old swimmer Josef Craig.

Peacock, 19, sealed his status as the fastest amputee in the world by upstaging South African Oscar Pistorius in the biggest race in Paralympic history.

The Cambridge sprinter showed no regard for reputations as he stormed away from the 100m field to win in 10.90 seconds, a new Paralympic record. Pistorius, the defending champion, was never in contention, finishing fourth behind fellow South African Arnu Fourie, but was quick to embrace Peacock at the finish.

Peacock said: “This Games is definitely a legacy, and to be part of that is amazing. I knew this crowd was going to be intense. Dave Weir going minutes before – I knew he’d win, and I knew the crowd would be on a high.

“(But) I didn’t think it was going to be that crazy.”

Weir continued his relentless pursuit of quadruple gold in London by making it three out of three with yet another masterful ride.

The wheelchair racer was at his imperious best as he devoured a world-class field, adding the 800m crown to his 1500m and 5,000m titles. He has the marathon left to come on Sunday.

Storey hailed her sixth Paralympics as her greatest yet as she celebrated a fourth title of London 2012 and an 11th gold medal in all, joining Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson as Britain’s most successful female Paralympian.

The 34-year-old from Manchester won in the 500m time-trial and three-kilometres individual pursuit at the velodrome before taking time-trial and road race gold at Brands Hatch.

Craig claimed gold in the S7 400 metres freestyle, breaking his own world record in the process.

Britain claimed its first ever Paralympic sailing medals, with Helena Lucas the star of the show as she collected gold in the 2.4mR class. Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell took bronze in the SKUD class.