Hannah Cockroft and Jonnie Peacock’s sprint masterclass
Jonnie Peacock and Hannah Cockroft put the next generation of speedsters through their paces at Sheffield’s Don Valley Stadium
Jonnie Peacock and Hannah Cockroft emerged from London 2012 as two of the world’s biggest Paralympic sprinting stars.
But on Thursday they went back to where it all started, putting the next generation of speedsters through their paces at Sheffield’s Don Valley Stadium.
A group of youngsters taking part in the Sainsbury’s 2013 School Games took part in a sprint masterclass with the two gold medallists – who both competed in the event as teenagers.
Peacock, who took part in three Sainsbury’s School Games, is confident this year’s competition will unearth several future British athletes who could make Team GB as soon as Rio 2016.
“My third competition here was in 2009 and I ran 12.85seconds, and in the space of three years I moved on to bigger competitions and it was a huge stepping stone for me,” explained the 20-year-old, who famously beat Oscar Pretorius to T44 100m gold last summer.
“At the Paralympic Games three years later I managed to take home gold, so in terms of progression I moved on quickly.
“I think a lot of it was due to what I learned at Sainsbury’s School Games.
“I think you are going to have people here who could be in Rio.”
It is a sentiment echoed by double Paralympic gold medallist Cockroft, who competed in the Sainsbury’s School Games for the first time in 2007.
There, while competing in seated discus, she was invited to attend a UK Athletics talent ID event, and it was then that she first turned her attention to wheelchair racing, returning to taste her success at the following year’s Sainsbury’s School Games.
“I’m just here to give them a little bit of motivation,” said the 21-year-old. “I can show them that if they perform well there are people watching you all the time and people wanting young talent.
“This could be their gateway to Rio 2016 or Tokyo 2020, so it is really important.
“Hopefully they can take something away from the masterclass that they didn’t know before.”
One of those intently listening to Peacock was Sheffield’s Joshua Naisbitt.
The 16-year-old long-distance runner hopes to use the masterclass as inspiration to follow in his footsteps.
“Jonnie has been to the Sainsbury’s School Games before and he has been talking to us about his experiences and that has been a massive inspiration for me,” said the City of Sheffield athlete.
“It makes me think that if I work hard, that is where I can be and that I can reach that level.”
The Sainsbury’s 2013 School Games, which is supported by National Lottery funding from Sport England and delivered by the Youth Sport Trust, was held in venues across Sheffield from 12-15 September 2013. Visit www.2013schoolgames.com for more information