Hannah Cockroft: Teenager eyes British indoor titles after record-breaking season

Hannah Cockroft challenges British Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee after GB’s fourth place finish in London 2012 The Olympics is a daunting prospect for any 18-year-old. But Hannah Cockroft – and this makes…

Hannah Cockroft: Teenager eyes British indoor titles after record-breaking season

Hannah Cockroft challenges British Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee after GB’s fourth place finish in London 2012

The Olympics is a daunting prospect for any 18-year-old.

But Hannah Cockroft – and this makes her, by a substantial margin, Britain’s youngest Olympic medalist – is already on the path to Rio 2016.

She is already a three-time Paralympic champion and a world record holder, all in para-cycling, while also captaining a British track team that won Olympic silver in London.

But, after guiding her school team to the UK Championship and British Schools Track Championships titles, the teenager says she hopes her motivation is further north.

Speaking exclusively to BBC Sport, Cockroft said: “London was amazing, but 2016 is probably going to be even better.

“A friend said to me ‘if you are successful at the World Indoor Championships, you don’t have to worry about Rio’, so I feel I’ve done something special.

“Being a longer jumper was always a desire, but I am an athlete and I always want to push on to be better.

“I’ve run 100m and long jump this year, but I’ve had mixed results. I finished ninth in the World Championship qualifier in January, and 19th in the trial at the English Schools Championships, and that left me a bit frustrated.

“That’s something I am looking to do a bit better, but it’s not going to be easy – that’s for sure. There are not a lot of good long jumpers in this country.”

Cockroft hopes to help Britain to its first podium finish at the World Indoor Championships

Cockroft has been forced to push on to find ways to improve her performances – which she admits are still “not great”, but maintains will “definitely get better”.

“When you get to the senior track season, it is much harder to get your peak performance,” she said.

“You have to ride the waves and try to improve. It’s going to be fun to see how it goes. I’m looking forward to this season.”

Like she did in 2009, when she became the first British athlete to win gold in the T34 100m and 200m at the Paralympics, Cockroft’s main target for this year is to help GB win medals at the World Indoor Championships in Portland, USA, in March and April.

Once again, she will be competing alongside a handful of her Great Britain team-mates.

In Portland, her sights will be on more long jumps – in particular, ones that would help her achieve qualification for the IPC World Athletics Championships in Doha next July.

“It’s getting to Rio,” she said. “I’ve never been to an Olympic Games, so I want to see how far I can go. I’m always looking for training plans and getting more time in with the team.

“I want to experience as much as I can and what this sport really is, but I am quite excited as well – not just because I am doing the World Indoor Championships, but because I am still in school.

“My teachers have been so supportive, so I’m not worried. If I am getting great feedback then I will be even more motivated.”

And Cockroft believes she will be doing very well in Portland, having recovered from injury – she broke a foot while training and needed surgery – and to concentrate on “more simple things”.

She is also a strong contender to win the British Indoor Championships later this month.

“There is always more to be done,” she said. “I haven’t been out for long and this will be my first season without the winter sports.”

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