Hannah Lucy Cockroft OBE, PLY, DL, is seven-time Paralympic Champion, and one of Britain’s best-known para-athletes.
Born on 30th July 1992, Hannah suffered two heart attacks within the first 24 hours of her life. These cardiac arrests left her with multiple areas of brain damage and a collapsed lung, with doctors questioning how the damage would affect her quality of life.
Yet, the problematic birth only helped in making Hannah a determined child. Raised alongside her brothers, Joshua and Daniel, she was never treated any differently to her able-bodied siblings. Hannah’s parents, Graham and Rachel, took every opportunity they could to get Hannah up onto her feet, strapping her into Kay-walkers, splints, twisters and standing frames. All this hard work resulted in Hannah taking her first steps aged three, in that moment deciding she wanted to become Prima Ballerina. Despite the seemingly unrealistic wish for a girl who could barely stand unaided, local dance school ‘Dance 4 All’ undertook the task, and through 17 years of dance lessons, concerts and awards, made Hannah an active and able individual.
Hannah was first introduced to para-sport at 12 years old, when the Cardinals wheelchair basketball team performed a demonstration at her secondary school. From this moment, she was hooked. Hannah played for the Cardinals for six years, whilst dipping into other sports through the club. At the 2007 School Games, run by the Youth Sports Trust, Hannah first witnessed wheelchair racing, whilst she competed for Yorkshire as a seated discus athlete. Invited to try out racing later that year at a British Athletics talent ID day, Dr Ian Thompson, husband of Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, put her in her first racing wheelchair and ran her through her first laps of the athletics track. The following year, Hannah stormed to victory at the 2008 School Games, this time as a wheelchair racer.
In 2009, Hannah moved on to train under the guidance of a new coach, Peter Eriksson. She trained hard after school and over the weekends, with her parents ferrying her to and from the track every day until in 2010, she found herself at a competition in Kirkby, Liverpool, breaking her first World Record in the T34 400m. Four weeks later, Hannah sat and finished her A-levels, became Prom Queen and broke seven more World Records in eight days, an incredible feat by anyone’s standards!
Hannah made her senior debut for Great Britain at 18 years old, representing her country at the World Championships in New Zealand in January 2011. Despite having only been competing for three years, Hannah became double World Champion, in the T34 100m and 200m.
The following summer, the world saw Hannah Cockroft line up at her debut Paralympics, the London 2012 Games. Cockroft took the world stage by storm, racing to victory over the T34 100m and 200m once again and setting two Paralympic Records in the process. Having become double Paralympic Champion on the home stage she was dubbed ‘Hurricane Hannah’ by the British media. An MBE followed in the 2013 New Years’ Honours.
Since then, Hannah’s lists of achievements have continued to grow. Now coached by Jenni Banks OAM, Hannah is the most decorated British athlete in World Championship history, with 12 World Champion titles to her name. She repeated her Paralympic success at Rio 2016, bringing home gold in the T34 100m, 400m and 800m, taking a new world record in the 400m and 3 games records in the process. Five years later, after a disrupted build up due to the Covid- 19 pandemic and many hours spent training in her garage, with reduced access to training facilities, Hannah lined up at the postponed Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. Here, at her third Paralympics, Hannah brought home 2 further gold medals in the T34 100m and 800m, breaking her own World Record in the 100m and her own Paralympic record in the 800m. Hannah is currently the T34 World Record holder in the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m. She was named an OBE in the 2022 Queens New Years honours after her success in Tokyo.
Off the track, Hannah’s personality has seen her invited onto shows such as ‘The Great British Bake Off’, ‘The Crystal Maze’ and ‘Strictly Come Dancing’, which she won with her partner on the show, Pasha. Hannah also made history by being nominated for the 2013 Sports Personality of the Year award; the first Paralympian ever to be nominated outside of a Paralympic year. Furthermore, she was named British Sportswoman of the Year by the Sports Journalist Association in 2017, being the first para-athlete to ever win the award in its 57-year history! Hannah was made a Deputy Lieutenant of West Yorkshire in 2016, being the youngest person to hold the title by over 30 years.
Most recently, Hannah represented Team England in the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, her first ever Commonwealth Games team. She brought home gold in the T34 100m in front of a roaring home crowd, completing the set of gold medals at every major athletics championships.
Hannah is now in training for the Para Athletics World Championships, due to be held in Paris in 2023 and the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. She is also continuing to present and report for the media, most recently reporting on the FA Disability Cup live on BT Sport.
Hannah is an accomplished speaker, with experiences ranging from school assemblies, to keynote speeches at corporate events. She has even given speeches at the House of Lords and in front of the Queen! Hannah has spoken for many clients, including, Ralph Lauren, BT, Muller, and Channel 4, covering topics such as accessibility, resilience, and marginal gains.
During 2020 and 2021, Hannah became accustomed to speaking and giving presentations and key note speeches via Zoom, Teams and Skype, adding remote motivational speaking to her abilities.
In the media, Hannah presented six features for BBC Countryfile in 2018, and has also appeared on many popular TV shows, such as, The Crystal Maze, The Great British Bake Off and Strictly Come Dancing.
For media and speaking enquiries, please get in touch!
“Thank you for delivering such a brilliant talk to our team at Sweaty Betty. We have had such great feedback – people felt inspired by your story and really connected with the points you made around how we can all ‘perform at our best’ in our roles every day.”
“By far the best guest speaker we’ve had”
Fizz Pop BANG!:
“Everybody, unanimously agreed that she was brilliant. She is such an inspiration, so great at articulating her incredible story, her message is so impactful and thought provoking and she’s also so cool and lovely to chat to! We really were so so grateful to have her there and she was a highlight for everyone.””
“Hannah was AMAZING, the team totally loved her”
Tudor Hall School:
“What a triumph! Never have we had such an inspirational speaker. Hannah was a real hit today with the girls and staff alike.”
“Your words were spot on and really engaging – bringing in our values as well.”
“Your presentation was very inspiring to listen to and you covered really important topics that have got the business thinking about how we move forward in a more inclusive way for all.”
• Name: Hannah Lucy Cockroft OBE, PLY, DL
• DOB: 30th July 1992 (Age: 30)
• Place of Birth: Halifax, UK
• Lives: Chester, UK
• Trains: Kirkby, Liverpool
• Classification: T34
• Coach: Jenni Banks
• Strength Coach: Richard Yarwood (Performance Evolution)
• Club: Leeds City AC
• Team: British Athletics
• 100m: 16.27
• 200m: 28.59
• 400m: 53.99 (World Record)
• 800m: 1.48.87 (World Record)
• 1500m: 3.44.29 (World Record)
• 2022: 100m Commonwealth Champion, Birmingham, UK
• 2021: 100m & 800m Paralympic Champion, Tokyo, JP
• 2020: 400m British Champion, Manchester, UK
• 2019: 100m, 400m & 800m World Champion, Dubai, UAE
• 2018: 800m European Champion & 100m silver medallist, Berlin, DE
• 2017: 100m, 400m & 800m World Champion, London, UK
• 2016: 100m, 400m & 800m Paralympic Champion, Rio, BR
• 2015: 100m, 400m & 800m World Champion, Doha, UAE
• 2014: 100m & 800m European Champion, Swansea, UK
• 2013: 100m & 200m World Champion, Lyon, FR
• 2012: 100m & 200m Paralympic Champion, London, UK
• 2012: First athlete to break a World Record at the London Olympic Park, London, UK
• 2011: 100m & 200m World Champion, Christchurch, NZ
• 2010: Broke seven World Records in eight days, Notwill, SUI
• 2010: Broke T34 400m World Record, Liverpool, UK
• 2021: OBE for Services to Sport
• 2021: Sunday Times Disability Sportswoman of the Year
• 2021: Leeds Disability Sportswoman of the Year
• 2021: British Athletics Writers Association Para-Athlete of the Year
• 2021: British Athletics Supporters Club Susanna Ingram Award
• 2021: Athletics Weekly's World Para-Athlete of the Year
• 2021: Marie Claire UK Future Shaper
• 2020: Leeds Disability Sportswoman of the Year
• 2020: Athletics Weekly's World Para-Athlete of the Year
• 2019: The Sporting Club Disability Sportsperson of the Year
• 2019: Leeds Disability Sportswoman of the Year
• 2017: The Sunday Times Disability Sportswoman of the Year
• 2017: SJA British Sportswoman of the Year
• 2017: Leeds Disability Sportswoman of the Year
• 2017: Disability Sports Yorkshire Sportswoman of the Year
• 2016: Deputy Lieutenant of West Yorkshire
• 2016: Honorary Doctor of Health Sciences at York St John University
• 2016: Yorkshire Sporting Achievement of the Year
• 2015: Leeds Disability Sportswoman of the Year
• 2015: Face of Panache ‘My Role Model’ Campaign
• 2014: Honorary Doctor of Bradford University
• 2013: Sports Personality of the Year Nominee
• 2013: Strictly Come Dancing Sport Relief Winner
• 2013: MBE for Services to Sport
• 2012: Freedom of the Borough of Halifax
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