For Cockroft, 2024 promises to be a life-changing year on and off the track.
She is competing in two major championships for the first time, with the World Para Athletics Championships taking place in Kobe, Japan, in May, followed by the Paralympics in Paris between 28 August and 8 September.
Cockroft, 31, has her eyes on increasing her haul of gold medals, but says that preparing for two major events in one year is a challenge unlike anything she has experienced before – albeit one she is welcoming.
“I don’t understand going to a major championships and not wanting to win gold, that is definitely the aim in Paris,” she said.
“But I have got a World Championships before then, so if I can add some more titles that would be a fantastic start to the Paralympic year. It’s the first time in my career that I’ve had two major championships in the same year so it’s a huge challenge to get everything right. Not just the training, but everything around that.
“May and August sound really far apart, but if you don’t have the rest and recovery to get that right then things can quite quickly go wrong.
“Right now things are the same as they usually are, but the difference I will really start to see as we go into the World Championships. Right now it more of a mental challenge than physical, but time will tell – it’s a completely new challenge, and 12 years into an international career you don’t normally have many firsts left. But I like a challenge.”
Cockroft is hopeful that the atmosphere and excitement seen around the London 2012 Paralympics can be recaptured at Paris 2024, after two Games beset by problems.
Rio 2016 was affected by budget cuts, while the Covid-19 pandemic forced the Tokyo Games to be postponed by a year to 2021 and eventually take place without fans.
“I really think Paris has the potential to be bigger than London,” she said. “The time difference from Rio didn’t help us, then the lack of crowd, Covid, everything that happened around Tokyo really didn’t push Para-sport into the public eye.
“Paris is only an hour apart from Britain. Coverage seems to be good, already so many companies and people, the things that were around before London seem to be coming back. It gives me great hope that it is going to be a big Games, and have the audiences we had in 2012.”
On top of all this, Cockroft is marrying her fiancee, fellow Paralympic athlete Nathan Maguire, in October.
“It’s a lot of pressure – the Paralympics, the Worlds and a wedding,” she said. “I’ve pretty much boxed off the things people do in a lifetime in one year, but if I get it right it could be the most incredible year ever.”
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