Hannah Lucy Cockroft MBE, DL, is five-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, 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, that same year adding three European Champion gold medals to her trophy cabinet. Hannah is currently the T34 World Record holder in the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m.
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, in a year heavily disrupted by COVID-19, Hannah made the most of the shortened season, becoming debut British Champion over the 400m and finishing on a high, breaking her own world records over four distances, all in a single day.
Hannah is currently training for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, postponed until 2021, where she hopes to represent Great Britain for a third time at the Paralympic Games, in the 100m and 800m.
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, 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!
• Name: Hannah Lucy Cockroft MBE, DL
• DOB: 30th July 1992 (Age: 28)
• 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: 16.71 (World Record: 16.77)
• 200m: 30.09 (World Record: 30.51)
• 400m: 55.98 (World Record: 57.48)
• 800m: 1.49.85 (World Record: 1.55.73)
• 1500m: 3.50.22 (World Record)
• 2020: 400m British Champion, Manchester, UK
• 2019: 100m, 400m & 800m World Champion, Dubai, UAE
• 2018: 100m silver medallist & 800m European Champion, 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
• 2020: Athletic's 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