Exclusive: Five-time gold medallist Hannah Cockroft on the coronavirus affecting the Paralympics and how the media are only interested in discussing the Olympics

"This is our big exam and our big test and we should be allowed to be upset"
"This is our big exam and our big test and we should be allowed to be upset" (PA)
8:37am, Wed 18 Mar 2020
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Wheelchair racer Hannah Cockroft is a five-time Paralympic gold medallist and has been training and competing for the last four years in preparation to go to the Tokyo Games this summer.

However, the coronavirus pandemic has put the event in doubt, with chiefs from both the Paralympic and Olympic Games set to meet this week to discuss the future of the events.

Cockroft said about the prospect of cancellation: "I'll be gutted, I've spent four years training for this. 

"I'm like 99.99 per cent positive that they won't be cancelled or postponed. I think they will go ahead as planned. But ultimately there's nothing I can do, so I'd just have to get on with it."

Cockroft was emotional after winning her first Paralympic gold at the London 2012 Games

If the games are postponed, Cockroft will have to tailor her training so she can peak at the right time to give herself the best chance of securing a gold medal.

She is hoping organisers will give athletes enough warning if the Games are postponed so competitors can change their training.

"[Postponement] will have an affect, in that case you'd just have to trust your coach and that they're experienced enough to change the training so I peak at the right time," she added.

"I hope they [organisers] give us enough notice so we don't start trying to peak for the Games and we'll know we have a little bit longer to train.

"Ultimately, the world championships were in November last year so it proves that it can be done and it's possible to compete later in the year. 

"I guess it'll affect everyone the same and it will be who manages it best who's going to come out on top."

While she is optimistic about the possibility of the Games going ahead, one thing that has frustrated Cockroft is the media's coverage of the prospect of cancellation.

The 27-year-old feels the majority of the focus has been on the Olympics rather than the Paralympics.

"I think it was only two weeks ago that they announced that the Paralympics [may be cancelled as well] because every article you read was Olympics, Olympics, Olympics," she said.

"People say 'oh the Olympics means the Paralympics too' as we get sold as a pair. You can't have one without the other. But the Paralympics are three weeks after the Olympics, so it's not exactly like whatever happens to the Olympics will happen to the Paralympic Games.

"I did get to a point where I was like 'what about us?' We put in four years work as well. It's hard. We have to qualify, we have to pull in sponsors, we put the same work in as a Olympian. 

"It's kind of nice because people are like 'we class you all as Olympians' but at the same time I'm a Paralympian and very proud to be one. So yeah, you want your own mentions, you just want to know people are thinking about both Games' rather than just the Olympics."

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