James Crook head and shouldersHannah Cockroft announced herself on the Paralympic athletics scene with a bang in 2010, when she pulled off the remarkable feat of breaking four world records at the British Wheelchair Athletics Association International, before going on to take world titles in the 100 metres and 200m T34 events at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Athletics Championships in Christchurch a year later as a fresh-faced 18-year-old.

And all using a racing chair that was modified by her welder father in Halifax.

Fast-forward to 2013 and Yorkshire lass Cockroft is now the darling of the Paralympic Movement in the United Kingdom after lighting up last summer's Paralympic Games in her home country by clinching two gold medals in the T34 100m and 200m to a rapturous reception.

Not that she can actually remember much from her exploits at London 2012.

"People were like, 'What was it like sat on the podium?' and, 'What was it like when you won your race?' and I honestly can't remember any of the feelings I went through when I was in those positions because everything just happened so quickly, especially after the 100m," Cockroft told insidethegames.

"I won my 100m, the drugs tester came and collected me, took me to the podium to get my medal, then to go straight into drugs testing, so you never really get a break in between to just sit there by yourself and think 'woah, I've just done what I've dreamt about doing for the last four years.

hannahcockroft11Hannah Cockroft rose to fame last year with her double Paralympic gold medal-winning exploits at London 2012

"But it was the most amazing moment, just very surreal. When you thought about it and dreamt about it and worked so hard for it for four years and it happens in 18 seconds, it's a lot to take in.

"That's why the Sainsbury's Anniversary Games at the end of July are going to be fantastic because we get to go back to that Stadium and kind of relive the moments from London 2012 and hopefully win."

The Anniversary Games will be held exactly one year on from last summer's Games in the British capital, with International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Diamond League action taking place at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on the first two days, before the world's top Paralympians, including Cockroft of course, take centre stage on Sunday July 29.

As much as the thought of reliving the glory days of London 2012 is one that fills Cockroft with excitement, she maintains that retaining her world titles in Lyon next month is the one thing at the forefront of her mind.

"I do remember a lot from the actual Games but not from the days I raced, because you're just a mixture of nerves and elation and your emotions are just all over the place on that day, so hopefully this time I'll know what to expect, I'll know what the crowd is going to look like and sound like, and I'm just there to enjoy it," she said.

151457478Cockroft is looking forward to returning to the Olympic Stadium where she won her Paralympic gold medals, but remains focused on retaining her world titles

"But the World Championships is the big one for me this year, the Anniversary Games is just a nice one to finish the season off with. It's going to be absolutely spectacular to get back to that Stadium, and I think it'll be a little bit emotional too."

Since winning a pair of gold medals at London 2012, Cockroft has seen her life transform before her eyes, from becoming a household name and a recognisable face to the public in the UK to receiving an MBE from the Queen and mingling with world superstars at events, her rise has been quite simply meteoric. And she insists that she is loving every minute of her new-found fame.

"I've been to Buckingham Palace three times and St James's Palace once since the Games. It's my second home, I've got my own bedroom there and everything now," she jokes. "It's still a massive honour every time you go back, you get to see a new room, meet a new member of the Royal Family, and that's an amazing thing to do. I still get excited, I get to buy a new dress every time I go.

"People still recognise me and I still get stopped in places like London where you don't really expect people to still remember you and what you did, but it's absolutely amazing when they do because it shows that you've done something good, I love it, and I still get invited to awesome events and get to meet really cool people, so I'm still riding that wave and I'm really enjoying it."

The T34 200m, 400m and 800m world record holder has also been recognised for her other strengths besides her athletic ability as a result of London 2012; her looks.

Cockroft was voted as FHM's "sexiest Paralympian" last September - much to her father's dismay.

"I just thought it was funny. My dad wasn't best impressed," she said.

"He said, 'You want to be seen as a professional athlete not doing this do you?', but I just thought it was cool that they see us in the same light as every other female in the world, you thought you're never going to see disabled girls in an FHM magazine, but they branched out from that and it's all part of that London legacy, making us on a level playing field with everyone else."

154620115Cockroft was awarded an MBE by the Queen in recognition of her success at London 2012

But Cockroft's personal London legacy has not been all plain sailing. She, along with several other successful members of the Team GB squad from London 2012, including Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford, have actually lost sponsorship deals after the Games.

In typical character however, she looks on the bright side of the situation.

"I've only got BT left as my sponsors now but I'm really thankful that they've hung around and their support is invaluable to me," she said. "You've got to be appreciative of what you've got. There's a lot of athletes out there [that don't have sponsors] and the whole of Britain is in this financial problem, and companies just can't afford to give money to athletes any more. It's not how I expected it to be, but you've just got to be happy with what you've got and get on with it.

"Sponsors are lovely but with more sponsors come more appearances, more requests, more events you have to attend which takes the focus off your training and obviously if you don't keep winning races, winning medals, then no-one is going to sponsor you, so training has always got to come first. It's taken me about a year to find that balance but I'm getting there. Slowly."

Despite such high costs just to buy the equipment necessary to compete in her classification, the lack of sponsorship deals is not on Cockroft's mind, and with her trusty racing chair "Sally" - named after 17-year-old Paralympic runner Sally Brown - still going strong, she remains focused purely on continuing to better her performance and win titles.

"I just kind of get on with it," she said. "I have a chair and she's still going, 'Sally', I raced her in London and she's got a bit of duct tape on her now, but she's alright. I've got amazing support from British Athletics, from the National Lottery, from the likes of Sainsbury's who support big events, so the support is there, it's not direct, but it's there, and you just have to grab it when you can, like I said, I've got BT and they're carrying me through, they're doing well for me. I don't have to get a job just yet."

The predecessor to her current chair, which she made her breakthrough in at the World Championships in Christchurch, was re-designed by her father, after the chair did not fit when she got her first racing chair at the age of 15.

"I had no idea what I wanted in a race chair so we just ordered one, and when it arrived it didn't fit very well, it wasn't what we wanted, and my dad's a welder so he just kind of cut it up and made it fit," said Cockroft.

"I'll need a new chair eventually. My first race chair lasted me three years, so at the World Championships, it was literally held together by duct tape, but it lasted. Then of course the support came round because London 2012 was up and coming and I was actually a name now in Paralympic sport so I got a new chair for London and Sally's still going so she'll hang around for as long as she can and then we'll go from there. But at £5,000 a chair, it's not like going to buy a new pair of shoes, but it's just what you have to do to do the sport.

"Before the Games all I had to do was train, no-one knew who I was, I didn't have to make any appearances so I just got up, trained when I wanted then went back to bed, but now it's like, I have to train at this time to get to this appearance and then train at this time to get to this event, and it has made me have to grow up a bit and spend more time away from home, but it's good.

"For a 20-year-old it's a strange life, I don't get to see my friends as much as I'd like to but you've got to grab the opportunities while they're there and I'm loving it."

108122929Cockroft's first racing chair was modified by her welder father, and saw her through the 2011 World Championships, where she took two world titles

Cockroft still lives in her home-town of Halifax, but is moving to Coventry in September to study media and journalism at university, with a view to getting involved in sports media. "Athletes always seem to go into politics or media, and I'd be terrible at politics," she said on her future.

"I've done so much media since the Games and I've really enjoyed doing it, so I just thought I might as well just do a degree that I enjoy and hopefully become the next Clare Balding one day."

James Crook is a reporter for insidethegames. To follow him on Twitter click here.