Hannah Cockroft and her wheelchair 'Sally' win gold


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The Independent Online

Tired of people referring to "the chair", sprinter Hannah Cockroft came up with a novel approach to personalise her racing companion - naming it "Sally".

The British Paralympian has set the world of sprint wheelchair racing alight, and was among the hot favourites going into last night's T34 100-metre final - and lived up to expectations by clinching gold.

Indeed while racing "Sally", Cockroft, who has cerebral palsy, has previously broken world records in 400m and 800m events, which are not included in the Paralympics.

The Halifax woman won her heat by over two seconds, smashing the eight-year-old world record by one-and-a-half seconds.

Now 20, she quickly became accustomed to success at a young age, after becoming the first person to break a world record in the Olympic Stadium in the T34 100m in May.

Nicknamed Pippy Long Stockings, because she ties bunches in her hair when she races, Cockroft is coached by Canadian Peter Eriksson.

She began racing in 2007 at the age of 15 during a Loughborough University talent day.

The college student said it was her "need for speed" which prompted her to take up the sport.

She said: "I like the ability to travel at speed as it isn't possible without my wheelchair. I like the speed, adrenaline and pure fun in the sport."

Cockroft's gruelling training regime includes nine sessions a week with gym time, pushing on the road or on the track, and a range of endurance or sprint exercises.