It’s ’embarrassing’ London 2012 remain best ever Paralympics – Hannah Cockroft

By Sports Desk January 16, 2024

Seven-time Paralympic champion Hannah Cockroft feels it is time for the world to “move on” from London 2012 nostalgia and stage another Games worthy of the athletes.

The wheelchair racer won T34 100m and 200m gold in the capital, a Paralympics still widely viewed as the most successful in the history of the now nearly 64-year-old event.

Cockroft, also a 14-time world champion, is optimistic the Paris 2024 Paralympics have a chance of setting a new bar, overtaking a London Games that, without sacrificing any of their considerable significance, can now also be viewed from the perspective of stalled progress.

Asked if this summer could finally establish a new exemplar, Cockroft told the PA news agency: “I hope so. I’d love that. Even though I’m so proud that I got to compete at London 2012, and I get to sit there and say that I competed at the best Paralympic Games ever, it’s also kind of embarrassing saying that an event that happened 12 years ago was the best one of that event ever.

“From what I’ve seen, the support the athletes are getting, the support I got this year, is bigger than what I had going into London, so this year is really big.

“We’re seeing big brands get involved, ticket sales are going really well, I think Paris could be huge if they do it right, and so far they’re doing it pretty well.”

Last week, three-time British-Canadian Paralympic medallist Stef Reid took to social media to express her disappointment after seeing the Olympics promoted on a list of 2024’s big events to watch, while the Paralympics were not mentioned.

Though Reid’s concern stemmed from one particular article, the omission is by no means an isolated incident. At best, Cockroft observed, “people group them together and say them as one word, ‘OlympicsandParalympics’, or they just use Olympics and assume it covers it all.”

She added: “As Paralympians we’re so proud of the movement we’ve built, so it is frustrating when that gets forgotten about and when that doesn’t get highlighted. We’re at a point where so many Paralympic athletes are household names.

“People actually know who we are and what we do, and we need to celebrate that because we’re actually one of the only countries in the world that treat our disabled athletes that way, and it’s such a privileged place to be that we need to shout about it more and celebrate it more.”

‘Hurricane Hannah’ will defend her London 2012 T34 100m gold for a third time in Paris as well as the back-to-back 800m T34 medals she won in Rio and Tokyo.

In February, Cockroft set four new world records in three days, some of which she has even already since broken.

Gold in Paris will set Cockroft on the road to an as-yet elusive and coveted feat – holding world, European, Paralympic and Commonwealth titles at the same time.

The 31-year-old, who has swapped both coach and chair since Tokyo, is certainly showing no signs of stopping, but when the time does come hopes she, like London 2012 and perhaps Paris 2024, has set an example for what happens when disabled children are dared to dream.

She added: “I just want to open up opportunities for people. I was told people like me didn’t play sport.

“I hate that we’re in 2024 and I still meet kids that are being told they can’t do sport because they have a disability. Sport is for everyone.

“We need more people bending the rules and not telling people what they can’t do, but telling them what they can.”

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    The Jamaica Paralympic Association (JPA) and the University of the West Indies, Faculty of Sport, in partnership with the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) on Thursday staged the launch of the inaugural GAPS (Gather, Adjust, Prepare, Sustain) Americas & Caribbean Programme to be held in Kingston, Jamaica from April 16 to 22, 2024. 

    This historic collaboration with the Jamaica Paralympic Association and the University of the West Indies has been realized, thanks to support from the President of the Jamaica Commonwealth Games Association and through the Memorandum of Understanding with the Jamaica Paralympic Association and the University of the West Indies, Faculty of Sport. During this inaugural year the programme will focus on the sport of Para-Athletics. 

    “This is a very special day for us because usually, multi-organization collaborations take a long time to come to fruition but every time we work with the Jamaica Paralympic Association, things happen very fast,” said Dean of the Faculty of Sport at UWI, Dr. Akshai Mansingh at Thursday’s launch at the University of the West Indies.

    “Para-Athletes are, in my view, some of the most talented athletes in the country,” he added.

    GAPS is a programme offered by the CGF which aims to advance inclusive sport pathways by offering athletes and coaches additional skills, knowledge and resources that help them to become a catalyst for positive social change and strengthens the Commonwealth Family bond.

    “I want to celebrate the fact that we now have the first ever GAPS camp in the Americas and the Caribbean,” remarked Commonwealth Games Federation President, Dr. Chris Jenkins, who was a virtual attendee on Thursday.

    This is a fantastic milestone. We’ve been working hard for a couple of years now and it’s finally happening. I’ve been to many GAPS camps and they’ve been truly inspirational,” he added.

    One of the main outcomes of the programme is to increase the number of countries participating at the Commonwealth Games.

    GAPS aims to address some of the unique challenges faced by para-sport athletes from the Americas & Caribbean region through a partnership programme that educates coaches, identifies talent, undertakes skill development camps, provides international internships and enables research opportunities.

    “I applaud the Commonwealth Games Federation and its President, Dr. Chris Jenkins, for their vision in enabling the able with a difference. I also salute the Faculty of Sport at the University of the West Indies for realizing this vision and affording our para-athletes an opportunity to self-actualize,” said Jamaica Paralympic Association President, Christopher Samuda.

    The GAPS Americas & Caribbean 2024 acknowledges the fundamental role the coaches play in the development of the athletes. Their development forms the foundational element of the programme. 

    The programme is designed to build a sustainable pathway for para sport development across the Commonwealth.

    The selection of the coach and athlete(s) are central to ensuring that the programme delivers on this goal and equally position the Commonwealth Games Associations to realize the dream of increasing or realizing representation of their athletes at the Commonwealth Games. 

    For the GAPS Americas & Caribbean 2024 programme, special emphasis at present, will be placed on the sport of Para athletics, with the view to expanding this to more sports in the near future. 


  • Adam Peaty ‘finding peace in the water’ as he books Paris Olympics spot Adam Peaty ‘finding peace in the water’ as he books Paris Olympics spot

    Adam Peaty said a new relaxed mindset can serve him well after securing passage to this summer’s Paris Olympics by finishing first in his signature 100m breaststroke event on the first day of the British Championships in London.

    The 29-year-old touched the wall in 57.94 seconds in the evening’s final – the fastest men’s 100m breaststroke time in the world this year and an improvement on the 59.10 seconds it took him to win bronze at February’s World Championships in Doha.

    Peaty, who still holds the world record of 56.88 seconds in the event, is now set to defend his back-to-back Olympic titles after securing a nomination in the British championships, one year after pulling out of the 2023 event to begin what became an extended mental health-motivated hiatus from the sport.

    Peaty said afterwards: “I’m not fully back, I’ve still got a second!

    “It’s always going to be my mindset, but I’ve got a healthy approach to it. A few years ago, I’d have come out of there disappointed.

    “I’ve learned to appreciate the moments of greatness for myself. For me, that was a great swim, executed well – but the most promising thing is that I’m finding peace in the water now, instead of anger and just fighting it, and trying to win like that.

    “I’m finding a new version of myself which I’m really liking, and I think that’s a version that can do really well at the Olympics.”

    The most direct way of securing a Paris 2024 nomination this week is to finish first in the open finals of each individual event, provided athletes clock in at or under a specific time set by the newly-rebranded Aquatics GB, though nominations are still subject to an official rubber-stamp by the British Olympic Association.

    Peaty emerged from his afternoon heat with a time of 58.53, the only man of 64 entrants in the event’s heats to touch the wall in under a minute, marking another significant step on a comeback journey for the five-time Olympic medallist.

    He was sidelined from the 2022 World Championships due to a foot injury and last year withdrew from the British Championships, making his competitive return in Doha.

    James Wilby, who finished second to Peaty, missed the 59.45sec nomination time by an agonising 0.02 seconds but could still be one of a maximum 30 swimmers nominated by Aquatics GB following the championships’ conclusion on Sunday.

    Scotland’s Keanna MacInnes, 22, punched her ticket after overtaking Laura Stephens in the women’s 200m butterfly, though Stephens – the reigning world champion in the event – also finished below the required nomination time to put herself in contention for Team GB.

    Freya Colbert, 20, who claimed women’s 400m individual medley gold in Doha, finished ahead of training partner Abbie Wood in the women’s 200m freestyle to secure her nomination, while Wood’s time was also under the nomination standard.

    This is the first year the British Championships combined events for both para and non-disabled athletes, and it was Poppy Maskill who emerged with the top, sub-nomination standard time in the multi-classification women’s para 200m freestyle where five athletes finished under the standard.

    Bath-based Kieran Bird came close in the men’s 400m freestyle, finishing in 3:45.63 – a hair off the required 3:45.43 – but might have also done enough do impress the selectors.

  • Lack of funding for deaf swimmers is ‘completely isolating a whole disability’ Lack of funding for deaf swimmers is ‘completely isolating a whole disability’

    One of the UK’s fastest deaf swimmers has spent more than 1,000 days campaigning against “discriminatory” policies that deny him funding.

    Nathan Young, a holder of seven national records, is not entitled to any Government or National Lottery money to support his ambitions.

    The reason is that UK Sport, the agency which allocates funding on behalf of those entities, is focused solely on Olympic and Paralympic sports.

    As deafness on its own is not a discipline in the Paralympics, Wirral-based Young, 24, falls outside its criteria.

    He is eligible to compete in the Deaflympics – the multi-sport event for deaf athletes sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee – but Great Britain does not financially back its entrants, unlike some other countries.

    The only central funding available for solely deaf athletes is at grassroots level, with nothing for elite competitors such as Young.

    That has left him needing to work and fundraise alongside his training to ensure he is able to meet the huge outlay needed to compete on the global stage.

    For most of the last three years, he has also spent a large amount of his time running a campaign to get the parameters for funding changed, believing the current rules to be unfair.

    “At the end of the day it’s discrimination,” said Young, whose campaign passed the 1,000-day mark in February.

    “It’s completely isolating a whole disability. If I was a Paralympic swimmer, I would have been getting paid since I was 16 or 17. It could have been a career that I could have had.

    “Right now, I train, I go to the gym but all the other things I should be getting as what you would class as an elite athlete, I don’t get any of it.

    “Others have the best treatment available to them to keep them going mentally, physically and in every aspect. I should be getting physio, doing strength and conditioning but I get none of that.

    “When I’m training right now, I’m thinking I should be working. It’s not what I should be thinking about.”

    Young’s campaigning has involved giving numerous speeches and interviews as well as writing many letters and articles. He has also contacted MPs and, as part of a wider campaign with UK Deaf Sport, has even visited Parliament.

    With UK Sport funding for recent Olympic/Paralympic cycles being around £300million, it is a source of frustration for Young that not even a relatively small amount can be found for Deaflympians.

    “What we’re asking for is so little,” said Young, who might need to find around £3,000 to fund a trip to next year’s Deaflympics in Tokyo.

    “UK Deaf Sport only asked for £4million for us (deaf athletes), which is so little when there’s £300-and-something million for Olympic and Paralympic sport.

    “We’re getting the same responses. We keep pushing it and pushing it but it’s been over 1,000 days now and it’s been an exhausting journey.”

    A UK Sport statement read: “UK Sport’s remit is specifically focused on investing in sports and athletes who are eligible to compete at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

    “The Deaflympics falls outside of Olympic and Paralympic sport. We are therefore unable to fund athletes targeting this event.”

    A spokesperson for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: “This Government is dedicated to making sport in this country accessible and inclusive for everyone, including deaf people.

    “Sport England has committed £1.2million between 2022 and 2027 to boost deaf sport at the grassroots level through widening participation and supporting the development pathway for talented athletes.”

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