Hannah Cockroft Athlete Interview


The following is an interview with world class athlete Hannah Cockroft, who is a wheelchair racer on the Great Britain Paralympic Athletics team and is a hopeful for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. She has been a wheelchair racer for four years and is now the T34 world record holder in the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m distances. In January 2011 she made her international senior debut for team GB where she competed at the IPC World Athletics Championships. She raced to victory in the T34 100m and 200m, being crowned world champion in both distances and ‘sprints Queen’ by the worlds media.


  1. What has been the best piece of advice you have received?

I’ve received a lot of good advice. A good one was “Keep your head held high and don’t let anyone put you down.” This came from another racer who knows the amount of jealousy there is in athletics and how it can really hit you when you’re down. But I think the age old saying “What goes up must come down” is very important. My coach is always telling me not to get too ‘famous’ as everything could change very suddenly and I need to do all I can do to make sure I stay at the top of my game leading up to 2012.


  1. Who, or what, has been the biggest inspiration for you?

In racing there are some very inspirational athletes. Achievement wise, Canada’s Chantal Peticlerc is a huge inspiration to me with 15 Paralympic gold medals to her name. I am now coached by her coach and I will soon get the opportunity to work with her which is a huge opportunity for me, if I can achieve even half of what she has it’d be amazing.
In general life, it has to be 2 of the girls I race against- Josie Pearson and Melissa Nicholls. They are just the most inspirational ladies in my life, they’ve both gone through some pretty unfortunate and unavoidable events that has turned their lives upside down but where most people would give up, they’ve carried on and made something of their lives and done it all with a smile on their face. You sometimes meet disabled people who can’t stop feeling sorry for themselves. This annoys me as having a disability isn’t the end of your life! In fact, I have more of a life than most able- bodied people I know!


  1. How important is nutrition to your success and performance?

I’m still fairly new on the international stage and so nutrition hasn’t played a vital part in my training and performance just yet. I’m a sucker for junk food and carbs which is really bad but I try to control my food intake. It’s all about healthy eating for me right now and taking in lots of protein. I need to keep my weight low so I can go faster on the track so I’ve recently started working with a nutritionist just to see if it makes much difference!


  1. Please could you outline your nutrition during a normal training day and then on a match/competition day?

I’m still sticking to 3 square meals a day which is a habit I need to get out of. But for breakfast it’s a variation on eggs (boiled, scrambled, poached etc.) or porridge and yogurt on a normal training day. Then lunch is soup or a pitta bread sandwich, something light as I’m between training sessions. And tea is whatever! I am a shocking cook so I’m lucky I still live at home. But the main meal of the day is always meat and veg in whatever variation it arrives. On race days my food intake goes right down as it just makes me feel sick mixed with the pre-race nerves. I have a banana and a protein shake for my breakfast, bananas between races and sometimes a little bit of pasta if there is a few hours between them and then I get to pig out after the race and this is normally when I let my junk food take over, to make up for the fact I’ve hardly eaten all day.


  1. Please could you outline what a normal day of training involves?

Training changes every day for me as there are so many different things to practice and perfect. I am in the gym 3 times a week doing upper body and core strengthening work and then another 6 sessions a week are done in my chair. They are split between 5k- 15k distance pushes and fartlek’s on the road, varied interval pushes on the rollers and starts and sprints practice on the track. They all practice different parts of technique for me so they’re moved around the week so my body doesn’t get used to a routine and it keeps pushing me to the limit.


  1. What advice would you give to anybody wanting to get fit and improve their health?

The sooner you start the better! You really notice a difference when you start to get fit as you feel like you’ve done so much more with your day and you strangely have more energy. But don’t expect miracles to happen overnight. Champions are made in the off season, so you have to put the work in to get what you want out of it.


  1. From your experience, for instance pre-season training, have you got any tips on how to stay motivated when the training gets tough and challenging?

I know that when I wake up and I see a cold and windy morning outside of my window, I really don’t want to get up. But I just remind myself that if I miss one day of training, that’s one day of training that the next girl in the world has up on me and it could be the difference between a gold medal at 2012 and no medal at all. One training session can literally amount to millimetres on the track and that is vital in wheelchair racing. But I love my job, I love my sport and I love what I do, so once I’m on the track, I remind myself what I’m doing this for and it makes everything more worthwhile.


  1. What has been the highlight of your career?

Definitely becoming the T34 double world Champion in New Zealand at the beginning of 2011. It was my international senior debut on the Great Britain team so to come away with 2 gold medals was amazing!


I would like to say a big thank you to Hannah for taking the time and effort to answer these questions and sharing some of her experiences of competing at the highest level, it is much appreciated. Your positive and proactive attitude is inspiring.

Thank you for your time and feedback. It is really appreciated.

“Together, we’ll achieve your goals”

Matt Swierzynski

E: matt@mattswaz.co.uk

M: 07936654876

W: www.mattswaz.co.uk

"He worked with me to improve my fitness, confidence and self esteem. Matt provided constant support and encouragement whenever I needed it and always offered new and exciting ways to exercise"