'I crossed the line and instantly felt frustrated I was only 0.12 seconds off my world record,' Cockroft told ITV News
Wheelchair racing star Hannah Cockroft shrugged off a freak injury to smash her own Paralympic record as she cruised to the seventh gold of her glittering career in rain-soaked Tokyo.
The 29-year-old suffered a nasty cut after catching her right hand in her chair less than an hour before dominantly defending her T34 800m crown in testing conditions at the Olympic Stadium.
She sported strapping on the wound, which was also covered by custom-made 3D printed gloves – manufactured by her GB team-mate Richard Chiassaro – to provide additional grip in the wet weather.
Yorkshire-born Cockroft feared doctors may recommend a withdrawal but doggedly battled on and insisted she would have been on the start line “even if my hand’s fallen off”.
“To come here with a gammy hand, I’m happy,” she said.
“I put my hand through the wheel, while the chair was moving – I’ve never done it before.
“Wheelchairs and rain don’t mix so I slipped off the rim and there’s not really much space to slip into so it went straight in."
Asked if she considered pulling out, she replied: “No. Never. The doctors and everyone looked like they were going to lean that way but I was ‘no way’."
Cockroft showed no ill-effects as she once again blew away her rivals.
She powered out of the blocks and finished more than 10 seconds ahead of British silver medallist Kare Adenegan in a time of 1:48.99, before laughing as she declared herself “gutted” to be just 0.12 seconds outside her own world record, set in Switzerland earlier this year.
American Alexa Halko prevented ParalympicsGB dominating the podium as she took bronze in 2:02.22, just under seven seconds ahead of fourth-placed Briton Fabienne Andre.
Having already retained her 100m title on this track on Sunday, she heads home four golds short of matching Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson as Britain’s most successful athletics Paralympian after bursting on to the scene with her headline-grabbing performances at London 2012.
Cockroft believes she is capable of even faster track times and would relish an opportunity to work with a Formula One team to further streamline already-exceptional performances.
Her boyfriend, fellow GB athlete Nathan Maguire – winner of a silver in Friday’s 4x100m universal relay – failed to make it past the heats of the men’s T54 800m, a race won by 10-time world champion Marcel Hug.
Although Cockroft remains in a class of her own, Coventry-born Adenegan was satisfied with a second silver behind her compatriot in Japan and hopes to close the gap before Paris 2024.
“I did what I expected and wanted here and to get two season’s bests when it matters shows that all the hard work to peak on time paid off,” said the 20-year-old.
“It’s been a really tough couple of years for all of us, so I’m really pleased with how I performed."
In canoeing, world champion Charlotte Henshaw completed a full set of medals after winning the battle of the Brits by powering to glory ahead of defending title holder Emma Wiggs.
The 34-year-old former swimmer added KL2 kayak gold to SB6 breaststroke silver and bronze – claimed in London and Rio respectively – on another magnificent morning for Great Britain at Sea Forest Waterway. Ex-sprinter Laura Sugar also claimed gold on Saturday, winning the women’s KL3 competition, while there was VL3 bronze for Stuart Wood in the men’s events.
Mansfield-born Henshaw has taken the sport by storm since switching from the pool in early 2017 and continued her remarkable progress by completing the 200m straight line in a personal best time of 50.760 seconds. Team-mate Wiggs was just 0.649 seconds off the pace as her Rio crown passed into the hands of her compatriot. “I didn’t switch sports to win a gold medal but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to complete the set,” said 34-year-old Henshaw, who had both legs amputated above the knee aged 18 months after she was born with bilateral tibial hypoplasis. “It’s lovely with a bronze and a silver but it looks much better with one of each colour," she added.
British wheelchair tennis pair Lucy Shuker and Jordanne Whiley won silver after being outclassed by Holland’s Diede De Groot and Aniek Van Koot in the women’s doubles final.
Shuker and Whiley went down in straight sets in just over an hour against the top seeds at Ariake Tennis Park, losing 6-0 6-1.
Despite Saturday’s comprehensive defeat, second place on the podium was an upgrade for the GB duo, who claimed bronze at both London 2012 and Rio 2016.
Van Koot and De Groot were on opposite sides of the net for the gold medal match in Brazil five years ago, with the former coming out on top alongside Jiske Griffioen, while the latter was partnered by Marjolein Buis.
They combined to devastating effect this time around as second seeds Shuker and Whiley were unable to gain a foothold in a match which swiftly became a formality.
De Groot had already claimed the singles title in Japan following Friday’s victory over home favourite Yui Kamiji while for Van Koot, the win was revenge after losing out on individual bronze to Whiley.
World number one Amy Truesdale fell short in her quest for Great Britain’s maiden taekwondo gold. A comprehensive semi-final defeat to Uzbekistan’s Guljonoy Naimova ended the 32-year-old’s dreams of topping the podium in the K44 +58 kg category. But the Chester-born top seed – a two-time world champion – recovered to win bronze by beating Iranian Rayeheh Shahab 41-31. Her medal in the Korean martial art, which has been included in the Paralympics for the first time, adds to the K44 -58kg silver won by team-mate Beth Munro on Friday.
Aled Davies, who co-captain's the ParalympicsGB athletics team, won gold in the Men's Shot Put F63. He is one of the squad's reigning athletes.