Hannah Cockroft, AKA Hurricane Hannah, Rocketwoman, Pippy Long Stocking is a T34 Paralympic wheelchair sprinter. She has been a Paralympic world Champion, European champion and currently holds multiple Paralympic world records for 100, 200, 400 and 800 meters.
Hannah won two gold medals at the 2012 Summer Paralympics for the T34 100 and 200 meter wheelchair sprints and is set to represent Great Britain in the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, in the T34 100, 400 and 800 meter sprints. To date she has successfully defended her 100m title.
Hannah was born July 1992 in West Yorkshire. Shortly after, she suffered two cardiac arrests causing nerve damage to her brain, spinal cord, legs and feet and was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. Medical experts predicted Hannah would never walk, may have difficulties talking, would not be able to do things for herself and might not live past her teenage years. However with an incredibly supportive family who refused to give up and an indomitable fighting spirit, Hannah has proved everyone wrong!
Growing up Hannah had many dreams. She wanted to be a ballerina, a policewoman, a singer and an actor. It wasn’t until her secondary school PE teacher introduced her to a local wheelchair basket ball team that her love of sports began.
After winning a silver medal for seated discus at the UK School Games, Hannah had the opportunity to attend the British Paralympic Association talent day at Loughborough University in October 2007. She met Dr Ian Thompson at this event who introduced her to wheelchair racing. This eventually led to an invitation to join Great Britain’s Paralympic team and was the start of an incredible Paralympic career.
Hannah has a long list of achievements and awards including world record and championship titles and the Federation of Disability Sports Sportswoman of the year 2012. She is the Patron and Ambassador for five charities, the director of 17 Sports Management Company and was awarded an MBE in 2013 for her services to athletics in the Queens New Years Honours list.
Hannah is a hugely inspiring role model for disabled and non-disabled children alike. Her story is strongly one of persevering against adversity. She has faced and continues to face prejudice on a daily basis, however, this only encourages her to try harder and dream bigger. Sometimes life can send you a mixed bag of experiences and you can feel that it is your limitations and other peoples perceptions of you that define you. However, Hannah shows us all just what can be achieved if you dare to hope and dream in the face of those limitation and perception, how with courage, determination and the support of good family and friends you can achieve the impossible.
More information can be found about Hannah here on her website. Hannah is currently patron for a charity that works hard to support disabled children across the UK. More information can be found at Whizz-Kids. Hannah supported the charities launch of a manifesto, which stands as a lasting legacy from the London 2012 Paralympic games which you can read about here: generation inspired?