By Scott Mills
In a week filled with recognition for their successes on the track, the Weir Archer Academy has been celebrating yet another personal award, this time for one of their most exciting talents.
At the Hampshire County Council’s annual Sports Awards ceremony, Eden Rainbow-Cooper was awarded the Michael Austin Harlick award for consistent and outstanding achievement in disabled sport.
In a year that has seen Rainbow-Cooper represent her country, win races and record many personal bests whilst often competing in age categories older than hers, the future is looking incredibly bright for the T54 athlete.
So it is no surprise to see that on a cold and crisp evening in November, the 15 year-old has once again travelled up from her home in Portsmouth to put in even more hard-work during an extremely intense training session on the rollers under the watchful eye of her coach Jenny Archer MBE.
In fact, in this particular session she is holding her own amongst some of the country’s most successful senior athletes such as John Smith and David Weir Cbe, something she has been doing ever since she first started wheelchair racing in 2013.
As the sweat and exhaustion spreads across Rainbow-Cooper’s face after an extremely tough session, she soon breaks into a smile reminding everyone how much she loves putting in so much hard-work into a sport she adores.
“Although it is a nice feeling to have people congratulating you and rewarding you for things that you’ve done, I don’t really expect it,” Rainbow-Cooper explains.
“Of course it is nice when it does happen because it is a reward for all the hard-work you put in.
“But I am not doing this to get awards or anything like that, I am doing it because I love the sport, but this definitely spurs me on.”
At an invitation-only awards ceremony, Rainbow-Cooper was first nominated for the prestigious trophy by one of her teachers from her school.
With the town Mayors, Olympians and Paralympians in attendance, the evening was certainly one to remember for the youngster who had recently spent a weekend training in Loughborough with the Para-athlete development squad.
“It is pretty cool because I wasn’t really expecting it as we don’t really hear much about our sport and I don’t say much about it at school so only so many people know about it,” said Rainbow-Cooper.
“Then to be nominated for the first time and then to go on and win it is really cool and it felt really good to be able to say I did this and won this award for doing something I love.”
Having won the Michael Austin Harlick award alongside many other medals during the season those of which include a gold in September’s Diamond League meet in Switzerland, you could easily forgive Rainbow-Cooper for having time off to reflect on such a successful season.
However, for the versatile racer who competes in all distances ranging from 100m to 1,500m on the track, this is not the case.
In fact, she is already focusing on what lies ahead as far as her goals are concerned.
“I want to go to the World Junior Championships, but apart from that I have got exams that I really want to do well in,” Rainbow-Cooper explains with a look of determination.
“So I am not expecting too much. I want some PB’s, so if I get them then I will be happy.
“But it is really about the seasons after this one where I can really apply myself to them a lot more because at the moment school is my first priority, if my grades drop so will my training.
“I just want to keep that up then when it is all done, I am definitely going to increase everything in racing and focus on it a lot more than I have been in the past couple of years and really commit to it a lot more.”
So whatever is in store for Jenny Archer’s young protégé, one thing is for certain and that is that this success is only just the start of what seems to be a blossoming career ahead of Hampshire’s Eden Rainbow-Cooper.