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Hannah Cockroft MBE

Within 48 hours of being born back in July 1992, I suffered two cardiac arrests, which resulted in damage to two areas of my brain and left me with deformity to my legs and feet and weakened hips. Doctors predicted I would never walk and would rely on a wheelchair for life.  My parents had other ideas and set me on a path through years of therapy with standing frames, walking frames, splints and twisters, until, aged 3, I was able to take my first steps. This opened up new problems with mobility, balance and the use of my fine motor skills, but it was a huge achievement, one that Doctors said would never happen.  This fighting spirit is one that has been a recurring theme in my life, and enabled my attendance at mainstream schools, being the first disabled student at each and coming out with top grades, showing the world that nothing was going to hold me back.  As long as my family are behind me and supporting me, I will always be determined to achieve great things.

My early life was much like any other little girl, I started out wanting to be a ballerina.  Not the most realistic of ambitions in my situation, but once again, my parents stepped up and scoured the area for a dance class that would accept me.  They eventually came across Dance 4 All, who allowed me to join their creative dance classes, where I stayed for 13 years of lessons, shows and hard work.  The dance lessons helped greatly with my mobility and flexibility and were, in effect, an enjoyable form of physiotherapy as I was able to be among friends.  As I grew, so did my dreams; I wanted to be in the police force, an actor, a singer, and finally settled on anything 'to be famous'.  Fuelled by my dreams I learned to play the violin, completed the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze award, became a Rainbow, a Brownie, a Sunday school teacher and a member of the Halifax Young Singers.

In senior school, I discovered a love of sports.  It was there that an enthusiastic sports teacher introduced me to a local wheelchair basketball coach and, at 13 years old, I began to play for the Cardinals wheelchair basketball team.  I got involved with the disabled sports team at school and also began my journey into athletics.  At the age of 15 I represented Yorkshire in both wheelchair basketball and seated discus.  After winning a silver medal at the UK School Games for seated discus, I was invited to a UK Athletics Talent ID Day at Loughborough University.  It was at this event that I met Dr Ian Thompson, husband of Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, who gave me my first taste of wheelchair racing.....and the rest, as they say, is history.

My Story