Hannah Cockroft has accused the world’s two leading sportswear brands of discrimination after claiming the reason she does not have a kit sponsor is because she does not wear shoes during her wheelchair races.
Cockroft, who is expected to be one of the stars of the Paralympic Games in Rio after winning two golds at London 2012 and three in last year’s world championships, is the dominant figure in her sport but said Adidas and Nike have cited her inability to use their footwear in competition as a justification for not sponsoring her. The 24-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, has been angered by a situation she feels illustrates how disabled athletes are still fighting for greater recognition.
“The real reason?” the ParalympicsGB athlete said. “I have been told it’s because I don’t wear shoes when I compete. What do I do with that? I wear a shirt, I wear trousers, I wear shoes on the podium when I’m collecting a gold medal. But apparently because that’s not when I’m competing that’s not enough. I’ve been told this by Nike, Adidas, all the big brands. I told them it was discrimination. It is discrimination.
There is taste discrimination and there’s rational discrimination. It does seem rational that a footwear brand doesn’t sponsor someone who doesn’t use footwear.
And her actual complaint is worse than that. She’s claiming discrimination simply because they won’t cut a commercial deal with her that she thinks is large enough.