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bLOG spot: Hannah Cockroft

Hannah Cockroft

Wheelchair athlete Hannah Cockroft updates you on her life as a disability athlete.

Check out more blogs at www.uka.org.uk.

 

Inspiring London 2012 Visit

User AvatarPosted by Site Administrator at 10/1/2010 3:56:38 PM

At 18 years old, I have had one of the most amazing years with experiences that most people could only dream of.

Since starting wheelchair racing just under three years ago I’ve won two London Mini Wheelchair Marathons, competed in Switzerland and Germany and broken seven world records (T34 category).

I have just completed my second season on the UK Athletics (UKA) World Class Performance Programme and the Aviva Great Britain & Northern Ireland Paralympic team and my first season with my coach, Peter Eriksson.

London is always busy and full of traffic, so after rushing through the city to start filming for one of the Channel 4 pre-2012 magazine shows, we got to the 2012 Paralympic apartment. The balcony gave me my first look at the Olympic park. Even before I entered the park, the bird’s eye view sent tingles down my spine.

The sheer extent of work that had been put into the park was unbelievable. I’d seen photos of the site before work began and now I saw massive, beautiful buildings which filled the landscape with dreams and ambitions of thousands of people.

Transportation at the Olympic site comes in the form of a big pink bus! Awesome! In the short journey to the Olympic stadium I got to know Ade Adepitan - the man is full of knowledge, jokes, stories, experience but most of all, encouragement. What made the experience even more inspiring was that on our travels I received a phone call from the UKA Paralympic Head Coach informing me I had been successful in getting selected on to Aviva GB & NI team for IPC World Athletics Championships in January. My first ever major competition and bringing me one step closer to my 2012 dream.

I entered the stadium on a major high, full of aspirations and inspired by my selection and my dreams for 2012, and the stadium didn’t disappoint! 80,000 seats, 53 metres high, Millions of pounds.

Upon entering, the excitement is already there. Although there is still no track laid and no field area, an atmosphere has already been created. A chat with the project manager just enforced the reality that London 2012 is now less than two years away and it is where I want to be.

The spaces for the HD screens, showing every bead of sweat, every mistake but also every victory; the tunnels from which Team GB will enter the opening ceremony to a stadium full of supporters waving Union Jack flags; the finish line of the 100m home straight already planned for positioning; and most importantly, the position of the podium for when Great Britain bring home the gold in the most breath taking Olympic and Paralympic Games yet.

Interestingly, the seats backed straight up to the track. Although the stadium looked huge on the outside, on the inside it felt so personal and kind of small. I remember thinking “I hope I don’t race in lane eight when I’m here!” The crowds are literally in arms reach of you, bringing an exciting but slightly scary feel to the thought that in less than two years time, this is where I could really shine.

And by September 2011  it will all be completed, the only thing left to do will be to watch hundreds of elite athletes make a life long dream come true. Standing in the stadium bowl, I shut my eyes and already I could hear the wall of sound, of support and it really was the most magic moment.

Moving on, we visited the aquatics centre and the velodrome, passed the basketball arena and the Athletes village and the most striking detail was how close they had managed to fit all the enormous buildings! Nothing was further than a 10 minute journey and every building had its own story behind its construction.

The Aquatics Centre had the detail of a wave shaped roof with a span measuring longer than Heathrow Terminal 5. The velodrome is now almost complete having taken only 10 days to lay the track. And the special touch to this cycle track was that the seating surrounded the whole track, meaning the cyclists get support throughout their race, not just on the straights, as it was cleverly built to provide seating above the camber.

To finish an amazing day, it was back to a viewing point where the entire Park could be seen. Here I met Lord Sebastian Coe. Another amazing man, full of experience and most importantly support, inspiration and determination to ensure that London hosts the best Games ever in the year 2012. He told us to remember that at every minute, when we are not training, someone in the world is training to beat us. Hearing that off a sporting legend was a brilliant finish to a phenomenal day. Now I want this more than ever.

I want to race at London 2012.

I want to win at London 2012.