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MS Patient Seeks Gold in 2 Different Sports

September 6, 2016

Kadeena Cox never thought about becoming a cyclist. Sprinting was always her thing and the 200m was where she excelled. Cox was one of the fastest able-bodied junior athletes in Britain and when thoughts of making it to Rio first entered her head, she dreamed of running on the track in the Olympics.

Two years ago, however, her life changed forever when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, after suffering a stroke a few months earlier. Cox knew immediately that she could no longer compete in able-bodied sports, but she soon set her sights on the Paralympics.

She found that it was difficult for her to run at all, let alone in the way she did as an Olympic hopeful. So she sat on a bike for the first time. “It was something I could do, sitting in a stationary bike that was stable,” Cox says. Soon it was clear that she could be very successful in this sport. She went out and confirmed that statement by winning gold in the 500m time trial (C4) in the Track World Championships this year.

“There are people who know more than me about the sport,” she says. “But I’ve got raw talent and passion and I’m determined to win.”

Cox is what many sports-fans would call a “Never-Say-Die” type of athlete. She has developed into a world-class cyclist in the space of 18 months and yet she was not willing to let go of track, understandably, because it was her main sport her whole life. Once she was able to return to the track, she traveled to Doha to win 100m (T37) gold in the World Championships and set a new world record. It means the world for Cox to be representing Great Britain in two sports in Rio.

Isabel Newstead was the last British athlete to win medals in two sports in the same Paralympics, collecting discus gold and shooting bronze in Seoul in 1988, but it briefly seemed that Cox would be restricted to the 100m, 400m and 4x100m relay in athletics when she was omitted from the original cycling squad in June after undergoing classification tests. She had started out in the C2 category but was moved into the C4 category for less impaired riders, having already been moved from the T37 to T38 category in track. However, space was made for her in the squad last month and she will race in the 500m time trial and the road race (both C4/C5).

Cox is not only looking to tie Newstead, but potentially overtake her as Great Britain’s most-decorated Paralympic athlete. She has the chance to collect 5 Gold medals, even though doing so would be a legendary feat. Cox’s condition means that her fatigue levels are high and recovery is crucial. “We noticed I wasn’t getting enough and I was being affected in training sessions,” she says. “That’s the challenge of doing two sports, I guess.”