Hannah Cockroft: Going for gold at the World Para-Athletics Championships
"I go into every race hoping that I can put in a good time but ultimately it's the World Championships and the gold medal is the the aim"
By Gemma-Louise Stevenson
Last Updated: 07/11/19 1:22pm
A determination to always be at the top of her game has seen Hannah Cockroft remain a major force within athletics for nearly a decade and with the World Para-Athletics Championships underway in Dubai, she's hungry for more success.
Already the holder of a record four consecutive world titles in the 100m, she goes into this year's meet planning to defend the titles she won in London in 2017 across both that distance and the 800m.
Having gained a reputation for smashing world records there's the potential we could see a few of those toppled as well.
"I hope so, I'm in good form and am pushing really well," she told Sky Sports. "I go into every race hoping that I can put in a good time but ultimately it's the World Championships and the gold medal is the the aim.
"Getting a good time alongside that gold medal would be a dream come true but right now it's just the medal that matters - no silvers at this one is definitely the aim but it's getting harder to make that promise."
Over the past year there's been visible growth in the women's T34 class which Cockroft competes in, and it's something she sees as a positive for the sport.
"For a long time a lot of people would say to me 'oh well you win it because there's no competition, you win it because there's no other girls in your class' but now we're one of the biggest female classes," she said.
"It's exciting and I think it really adds something to the race when you're not sure who is going to win and I've never really had that until last year so I really think that will draw people in to want to watch what we do."
"I've made some pretty big changes"
Heading into the World Championships, the British athlete makes no secret of the fact that in 2018 there was a period where she 'fell out of love with the sport a little bit' despite her sustained success.
"I think last year was just my year of distraction," Cockroft admitted. "The European Championships didn't really drive me as much as it should have done and I obviously went off and became a Countryfile presenter.
"I don't regret a single second of it, I absolutely loved what I did outside of my sport last year and I think it's really important for athletes to go and look up what they can do outside their sport because you know you don't want to get to the end of your career and have no other strings to your bow other than I can push fast in a straight line.
"Best of all it showed me how much I actually love my sport and going out in Berlin and winning silver made me realise that I do this because I love winning, I love being on the track and being the best in the world.
"It made me come back this year and really focus on what I need to do so I've made some pretty big changes like moving away from Yorkshire and training with a group and so far so good," she added.
"I'm super lucky to do what I do"
Leading up to the World Championships Cockroft has received praise for not just her results and form on the track, but also for how she uses her platform to highlight issues affecting the disabled community.
And with under 300 days to go until the Tokyo Paralympics there are already debates surrounding the "Superhuman" label regularly used within the media.
"I think ultimately I love the Superhuman idea, the concept of it is fantastic but it kind of got stretched out so much that it wasn't just about the Paralympians, it was about everyone in the disabled community," said Cockroft.
"After London 2012 I had people approaching me in the street saying 'my life is horrible now because of what you've done, people come and ask me why are you not the next world beater, why are you claiming benefits and not getting a job'.
"To have real people coming to you and saying that - we thought as Paralympians we were changing the world for the better but we actually made a lot of people's lives a lot more difficult.
"You know nobody looks at an able-bodied person walking down the street and goes 'oh that's the next Usain Bolt' but everyone looks at a person in a wheelchair or an amputee and goes 'why are you not racing against Jonnie Peacock?'
"I always say I'm super lucky to what I do, it doesn't make me superhuman and I think moving forward it's about changing the focus.
"I don't know whether it's being brought back next year but hopefully we can kind of put it back on the Paralympians and just show what we can do rather than make it sound like everyone can do it."