Hannah Cockroft says Paris Paralympics can be even bigger than London 2012

Seven-time Paralympic champion Hannah Cockroft believes Paris 2024 has the potential to be bigger than “super-sized” London 2012.

Wheelchair racer Cockroft burst on to the scene 12 years ago at an unforgettable home Games which is still widely considered to be the pinnacle of Para sport.

Slow ticket sales and budget issues dogged Rio 2016, while Tokyo 2020 took place a year later than scheduled and without spectators amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Cockroft, who on Friday was named in ParalympicsGB’s squad for France, feels disability sport is due a shot in the arm as the legacy of London fades.

“I had nothing to compare London 2012 to so, while I was there, I don’t think I appreciated just how big it was,” she told the PA news agency.

“But what made London special was the crowds, the atmosphere, the coverage – just everything that was done around London 2012 seemed to be super-sized, it seemed to be bigger than it ever had been and ever has been since.

“Paris has an opportunity to be as big, if not bigger, than London 2012.

“Everything I see, everywhere I’m looking, the Paris Paralympics are being promoted so I see no reason for it not to be massive. We kind of need it to be.”

Following the behind-closed-doors Paralympics in Japan, crowds will return for the first European Games since London, while a time difference of just an hour should attract a far greater television audience in the UK.

Cockroft heads to the French capital, where action begins on August 28, bidding to defend her T34 100m and 800m titles after retaining gold in the two events at last month’s World Championships in Kobe.

“London 2012 inspired a generation; that was the tag line and it 100 per cent did,” the 31-year-old continued.

Hannah Cockroft won the first two of her seven Paralympic golds at London 2012
Hannah Cockroft won the first two of her seven Paralympic golds at London 2012 (John Walton/PA)

“But now you go to schools and you go, ‘do you remember London 2012?’ and they go ‘Miss, I was born in 2017’.

“We need it again to reach out to those people that don’t remember London, reach out to those people that don’t watch Para sport and give them something to watch and enjoy.

“London showed that when you put it out there, people enjoy watching it, so let’s see what we can do.”