Exclusive: Eriksson is almost impossible to replace, says Cockroft

Friday, 09 November 2012
By Tom Degun

hannah-cockroftNovember 9 - British wheelchair racing star Hannah Cockroft, who stormed to two gold medals at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, has admitted that it will be almost impossible for Peter Eriksson's successor as the UK Athletics Paralympic head coach to fill his shoes.

Eriksson was last month unveiled as the UK Athletics Olympic head coach, taking over from the outgoing Charles van Commenee.

The 59-year-old Swede takes the role after developing a formidable reputation as one of the best Paralympic athletics coaches in history and he cemented that status this summer as he led the ParalympicsGB athletics team to third in the medal table with 29 medals – 11 of which were gold.

It came after they claimed just two gold medals at the Beijing 2008 Paralympics to finish in 18th place on the athletics medal table before Eriksson arrived just after the Games in China to change their fortunes.

Hannah Cockroft 09-11-12Hannah Cockroft secured two of Britain's 11 athletics gold medals at London 2012

UK Athletics is currently searching for his successor but Cockroft, who was personally coached by Eriksson, says the incoming individual has a tough act to follow.

"I am so proud of Peter and I can't think of anyone who deserves the job of Olympic head coach more," she told insidethegames.

"He will do amazing things for the Olympic team.

"He has helped me achieve my dream so I'm happy to see him follow his dream.

"At the same time, it has hit me harder than the rest of the team.

"He was my personal coach and this means that he can't be my personal coach anymore.

"I trust Peter and he will not just leave me stranded so he will find me a new coach.

"But it did upset me when I found out.

"Peter took us from two gold medals in Beijing before he arrived to 11 gold medals in London in just four years.

"They are huge shoes to fill.

"I don't know who is going to take it on yet but good luck to them because it will be hard to follow Peter.

"I just hope they can keep the team where we are at because we are a fantastic team and all the people on it are very talented.

"There is no reason why we should go down as a team but Peter bought in so much leadership and so many good things that they have their job cut out."

peter erikssonPeter Eriksson became UK Athletics Olympic head coach to replace Charles van Commenee

The 20-year-old from Halifax also admitted it was hard to take when she first found out that Eriksson would be relinquishing his Paralympic coaching duties.

"I had to keep it a secret before it was publically announced so it has been tough for me," she said.

"After what I achieved at London 2012, people are expecting more from me at Rio [2016] and I need someone to help me get there.

"I really hoped that it would be Peter guiding me but obviously that was not meant to be.

"Sometimes change is a good thing but it is also a hard thing."

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