Hannah Cockroft fulfils ultimate legacy in wheelchair racing after beating ‘stacked lineup’

Additional medals for England in the pole vault and discuss as Katarina Johnson-Thompson produces an encouraging opening day showing

Paul Eddison
Wednesday 03 August 2022 07:35 BST

The set is complete for Hannah Cockroft whose legacy in wheelchair racing will likely never be topped.

The Paralympic, world and European champion added Commonwealth gold to her incomparable collection to close out the opening night of action in the athletics at Birmingham 2022.

And in a career that has seen her win everything there is to win, the long-term impact of this win, part of an English clean sweep along with Kare Adenegan and Fabienne Andre, may end up being second only to London 2012.

She said: “I can’t believe that I’ve gone out and I’ve done it. Every time there’s a new person to watch. I genuinely think I had one of the hardest races here tonight. I had the silver, bronze and fourth place from Tokyo and the silver medallist from London 2012 so I had a stacked line up to be fair.

“To do a sub-17 on that track, it does show the power of a crowd. They roared all three of us English girls’ home. They made us incredibly proud to represent our country.

“To sit all three of us up there, it shows that Britain is doing something right. We’re still pushing paralympic sport. We’re still making the most of it and we’re still getting great girls coming through. I know I’m old. I’ve been around for ten years now. But it just shows that we’re not getting any slower and the event’s progressing all the time.

“Hopefully there were some kids sat at home, I know it’s late, and they’re going to come and challenge us in four years’ time and they’re going to be the new champions.”

Cockroft beamed as she entered the track and even Adenegan, the only athlete to have ever beaten her, had no answer as she raced home in 16.84, nearly a second clear of the field.

Earlier in the evening, Katarina Johnson-Thompson produced arguably her best opening day in the heptathlon in three years as she took a 109-point lead into day two.

But after a difficult year in which injury forced her to withdraw midway through the Olympics and was off the pace at last month’s World Championships, the 29-year-old was not getting carried away.

She said: “It’s hard to be confident when my results have happened over the last year. I’m confident in myself that I’m enjoying it and happy and am going to get solid performances out. That’s all I can do. I’m more confident post day one than I was going into it.

“I think in 2018 this competition was the pathway to winning global medals and hopefully this can be it again, my transition back.”

The biggest shock of the night came in the women’s 100m T38 as Wales’ Olivia Breen got the better of Paralympic champion Sophie Hahn for the first time in their nine-year rivalry – embarking on an emotional lap of honour.

But there was disappointment for Holly Bradshaw, who was forced to pull out of the pole vault after suffering a hamstring injury in the warm-up.

The Olympic bronze medallist injured her hamstring at the World Championships when her pole snapped in a freak accident.

And she aggravated it while warming up for the event. Her teammate Molly Caudery ensured there would be a pole vault medal though, winning silver, as did Jade Lally in the discus.

There were two further medals in the men’s 100m T45-47 as Emmanuel Oyinbo-Coker took gold and Ola Abidogun won bronze.

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