Paralympian tells students of her race to sporting success

Friday 6 April 2018

Paralympian and world record holder Hannah Cockcroft MBE gave an insight into the ups and downs of her sporting life on a visit to sixth form students at The Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL).

On the upside, Hannah has enjoyed phenomenal success as a wheelchair racer, winning multiple World Championship and Paralympic titles, but on the downside the pressure and public profile this brings can take its toll as well.

Telling her story from playing wheelchair basketball and seated discus in her teens, to breaking five world records as a wheelchair racer and combining her training with studying for a degree, Hannah left the audience with three things to take from her life story:

Build your team, not everyone will be your best friend – Hannah paid tribute to her family, the coaches and many others who have helped her along the way; while athletics is an individual sport she acknowledges that you cannot succeed alone.

Take every opportunity, you’ll learn something new – Hannah needed persuading to try a race chair when she was invited as a teenager to a talent ID day at Loughborough University. Fortunately her dad talked her into it and she says it was the best thing he could have done: “It made me feel free, I could go for miles and nothing could stop me, it was my first real sense of freedom and independence.”

Be happy being you – speaking of the phenomenal atmosphere and support at London 2012, Hannah said: “I love what I do and it’s a privilege to be racing.” When questioned from the audience about the sacrifices she has to make, she described her life in sport as “a choice not a sacrifice.”

The talk was part of ‘Aspire’ at GSAL, a programme designed to enhance the sixth form experience beyond the curriculum, by offering students the chance to develop new skills and interests through taught courses and volunteering, as well as a series of lectures from inspirational speakers.

Photo: Hannah Cockcroft is pictured with Y12 students (L-R) Georgia Turton, Emma Hope, Sam Slater and Ishak Rouf

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