Cockroft breaks Paralympic record to win 100m gold with stunning display
The 20-year-old from Halifax and a wheelchair called Sally on Friday provided not one but two of those all too rare, emphatic sporting moments that are simply a privilege to watch.
Cockroft was so dominant, so focused, so impressive.
Great Brit: Hannah Cockroft celebrates winning gold in the 100m - T34 final
That she allowed two passionate sets of fans in an Olympic Stadium on home soil - the morning and evening crowds - to share in the experience just made it all the more special.
There are two ways you want to win Olympic or Paralympic gold: edging past your fiercest rival to take the glory by a matter of millimetres or obliterating the opposition.
Cockroft, the new Paralympic 100 metres gold medallist for wheelchair racers with cerebral palsy, definitely falls into the latter category. The 'proud Yorkshire lass' with white roses in her ears qualified for last night's final almost two seconds faster than any of her rivals.
The way she slowed down in the final 30 metres or so - but still broke the Paralympic record - echoed Usain Bolt's performances in its majesty. 'I wasn't being cocky,' she said. 'I was saving my energy.'
She went even quicker in the final in another Paralympic record of 18.06sec.
The 80,000 fans in the sold-out stadium responded as if it was the fastest man in the world in front of them: they seemed to collectively take Cockroft in their arms, applauding and thanking her with one overwhelming, guttural roar. This is unchartered territory for disability sport.
Hard at work: Cockroft on her way to winning gold
Morning sessions of athletics do not normally sell out at the Olympic Games, never mind the Paralympics.
But London has managed it twice in three weeks, filling this stadium with what Cockroft called a 'mind-blowing' amount of noise, admitting that she was 'very scared' competing in front of so many people for the first time in her career.
It didn't show, mind you. Cockroft soaked it all up as she went on a warmup lap before her heat, sang all the words to God Save The Queen and couldn't stop smiling in that style that masks a fierce and driven competitor.
When Cockroft was two, her parents were told she wouldn't 'live until her teens'. Now she's the world recordholder and Paralympic champion - with the chance of a second gold in the 200m to come.
It's little wonder she laughed off suggestions Britain's athletics squad might struggle to beat the two golds they won in Beijing. 'I'm going to get two, so we'll have beaten that already,' she said. 'No, that's really big-headed.I've got to keep my feet on the ground and just come back and do what I do best: winning.'
Nailed it: Cockcroft was on fire in front of the 80,000 sell-out crowd
If Cockroft's victory was a procession, Yinan Wang's gold for China in the men's S8 400m freestyle was more torturous to watch from a British perspective - especially if you happened to be Helen Hynd, who saw her younger son Oliver beat his older brother, Sam.
Wang clearly had not read the script. This was supposed to be about the two brothers from Mansfield who have neuromuscular myopathy, which weakens their legs, with Thomas Young in the mix for a potential British clean sweep.
Lord Coe even presented the medals. We wanted to see another Brownlee brothers moment, the siblings who won Olympic gold and bronze in the triathlon. Alas, Wang had other ideas.
The 21-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, had an electric start and although Sam Hynd, 21, the world record-holder and defending champion, drew level, he was soon pushed into third as Ollie, 17, took the lead before fading to second in the last 50m as he set a personal best. Young finished fourth.
Sam Hynd said: 'All I can do is pat him (Ollie) on the back. It was pretty special, being stood on the podium together.' Silver was certainly the colour for Britain in the Aquatics Centre last night, with the hosts finishing second in five of the finals.
Emphatic: Wang Yinan was impressive in the Aquatic Centre for China
James Crisp and Steph Millward won silver in the men's and women's S9 100m backstroke and Aaron Moores came second in the men's S14 100m backstroke, an event for athletes with intellectual impairments which features for the first time since 2000.
It was also silver for Heather Frederiksen. The 26-year-old has three more events to go including the 100m backstroke, in which she is the defending champion, but last night she lost out again to Jessica Long.
The double amputee, who was adopted by her American parents from an orphanage in Siberia when she was 13 months old, broke her own world record to win by more than 18 seconds.
Long, still only 20, already has nine golds, a silver and bronze from three Paralympics, with seven more medals to aim for in London.
If Cockroft is the Bolt of the athletics track, then Long must surely be the female Michael Phelps of the pool. She nailed it, too.
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