Pocket meets Hannah Cockroft OBE - Wheelchair racing athlete, 7 x Paralympic Champion, 12x World Champion, World record holder and TV presenter.

6 min read

Pocket meets Hannah Cockroft OBE - Wheelchair racing athlete, 7 x Paralympic Champion, 12x World Champion, World record holder and TV presenter.

Team Pocket had the amazing opportunity to catch up with 7x Paralympic Champion, 12x World Champion, world record holder and TV presenter Hannah Cockroft OBE to discuss her incredible career so far as the most decorated British Paralympic athlete. 

Hi Hannah, it’s so lovely to meet you and firstly a huge congratulations on being awarded an OBE for your services to sport.

Thank you!

Please can you give us an insight into your background and how you first got into para-sport?

When I was born, I had 2 cardiac arrests in the first few hours of my life, which ultimately left me with several areas of brain damage, and as I grew, deformed legs and feet and weak hips, due to damaged nerve endings. Despite all of this, I had a relatively normal childhood. I went to mainstream schools, had able bodied friends and did pretty much everything they did, aside from sport.

I had dance lessons from an early age - I call them dance lessons but I was always one step behind, barely completing a move, but I loved it, it was my dream to become prima ballerina. I also had swimming lessons. But that was where my activity ended, as in school, health and safety prevented me from joining in PE lessons. It was only when I moved to secondary school that one of my support assistants took it upon herself to adapt some of the lessons so I could get involved.

When I was 13 years old, she invited the local wheelchair basketball team into school to do a demo for my class and that is where I first saw disability sport. I played for the team for the next 8 years, being introduced to many other sports along the way. When I was 15 years old, I was introduced to wheelchair racing for the first time and as they say, the rest is history!

You have so many incredible achievements to your name - 12 world championship titles, you have broken world records, won 7 Paralympic gold medals, you have been awarded an MBE and most recently an OBE just to highlight a few. Is there a stand out career highlight for you so far?

It’s so hard to pick a highlight as they all have their special places and memories. I guess the MBE and more recently the OBE are special, because you can’t win those, they are recognition from another person for your hard work.

But I think the race I’m most proud of and that stands out the most to me was my 100m race at the 2019 World Championships. I didn’t have a great year in 2018 race wise, I wasn’t pushing well and was distracted and as a result, I lost my 100m World Record and came second in a number of races, including losing my European Champion title. The 100m race at the 2019 World Championships was the first international race I had ever lined up for not as the World record holder and not as the favourite to win and there was a lot of different pressure in that for me- the whole year and build up to it felt very different. So to go in, and to win in a time that took my World Record back was very special. I had made a lot of hard decisions to get to that point, so I was glad they had all paid off.

You recently represented Team England in the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and won gold in the T34 100m. Can you explain the feeling that you had competing in your home country and winning gold?

I have been lucky enough to compete in a few home Championships in my career. I had the London 2012 Paralympic Games, the European Championships in Swansea in 2014, the World Championships in London in 2017 and most recently, the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this year, and there really is nothing like a home crowd. Especially after the quiet of having no crowds at the Tokyo Paralympic Games, it was wonderful to have all my family and friends and supporters old and new lining the stands to see me win the last medal for my collection. We also managed an England 1-2-3 in my race, so to top the podium with 2 of my team mates was extra special. I feel like everyone sang Jerusalem extra loud for that ceremony!

Throughout your training growing up and your career so far, what has been your main motivation and what continues to motivate you?

My motivations have changed a lot throughout my career. London 2012 was a pretty massive motivator to begin with, just to have that opportunity in arms reach if I put the work in was enough to get anyone out of bed. Then, once I’d tasted victory, I’m not ashamed to say that that was my motivation, I loved the feeling of winning and the opportunities I got off the back of it, so that was what kept me going. It’s a very fickle motivation though, that disappears when things aren’t going that well and during the pandemic, there weren’t any races to win, so ultimately, there was no motivation to continue training, unless I found a new drive. 

I learnt during 2020, where I had to train in my garage or on the roads and I couldn’t see my coach or my training partners that actually, the best motivation was just the pursuit of my own improvement. I find great enjoyment in seeing how hard I can push myself, how much quicker can I get and how strong can this body, that holds so many problems of its own, be? And I don’t think I’ve found the end answer to that yet, so answering those questions continues to be my motivation.

How often do you train and what would be your typical training routine? 

I train 6 days a week, with Sundays being my rest day (my favourite day!). I train in my racing wheelchair 6 days a week and then have 2 gym sessions on top of that. In the winter, the mileage is high, covering between 7- 15 miles per session, and then the closer to the summer that we get, the more sprinty and quick the sessions get and the mileage drops a little. A chair session can be held on the track, road or on the roller, which is a big drum that the race chair rests on and we can push without moving anywhere. Gym is just lots of upper body work- bench press, dips, pull ups, rows. I’m bench pressing 85kg now, which is my highest ever, so I’m super proud of my progress!

How did you find the comfort and fit of the Pocket set whilst training?

I found the Plein Air Olive set so comfortable to wear. I think my favourite feature was the band around the top of the leggings because as I’m leant over in my wheelchair, I sometimes struggle to keep leggings pulled up, but the band held them in place even during the toughest effort. The colour of this set was also gorgeous - I got so many compliments wearing it! I felt fully supported in the bra, whilst it still looking nice.

Are you currently training for any future championships?

We have the World Championships in Paris in July 2023, so I’m currently training to qualify for that. My season will begin in Dubai in February, and then we will head to Switzerland in May to line up against the Worlds best before hopefully making my 6th World Championships team!

Finally, what advice would you give to others who are looking to access para-sport and dream of competing one day?

Check out to see what sports and clubs are available in your area and try as many as you can! I tried so many different sports before I found the one I stuck with and I have so many great friends and memories from each one. Don’t choose a sport and think that you have to stick with that one because you’ve given it a go, the World is your oyster and there are more opportunities than ever in para sport right now! And most of all, choose a sport that you love. I really think that passion is the most important step to success. If you’re not passionate about it, what is going to get you out of bed on those cold, rainy days?

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