City’s athletes given heroes’ welcome home

Kadeena Cox is greeted by family as Great Britain's Paralympic team returns from the Rio Paralympics to Heathrow Airport, London. 20 September 2016.

Kadeena Cox is greeted by family as Great Britain's Paralympic team returns from the Rio Paralympics to Heathrow Airport, London. 20 September 2016.

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Their incredible efforts helped the nation achieve its most successful Paralympic Games in nearly three decades.

And crowds of friends, family and supporters of ParalympicsGB’s golden squad gave them a heroes’ welcome as they touched down on home soil from Rio yesterday.

Among the champions who landed at Heathrow Airport were Leeds’s own Paralympic athletes, including inspirational Kadeena Cox who was greeted by family before heading back to the city.

Their return comes after the athletes won 147 medals - including 64 golds - making it the biggest Paralympic haul since 1988.

Ms Cox, who won two gold medals at her debut games in cycling and athletics, embraced friends and family after touching down following her remarkable achievements at the games.

She was joined by fellow Paralympic champion Dame Sarah Storey at the airport, who said the atmosphere in Rio was just as electric as it was in London in 2012.

Storey, who won three golds in cycling at the games, told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “I don’t think I have smiled this much since my wedding day, it is just amazing.

“The support we have had and the atmosphere here is just incredible.”

Ms Cox made history this month by becoming the first British athlete to win a gold in two different sports at the same Paralympics.

Her achievements were honoured by organisers as, just two years after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, she was chosen to be the nation’s flag bearer for the closing ceremony at the Maracana Stadium. Other champions from the region include wheelchair racer Hannah Cockroft, from Halifax, who won her three golds at the games.

Golds medals were also secured by Calderdale’s Karen Darke, as well as by Steve Bate, from Mytholmroyd, in the tandem and his pilot Adam Duggleby from Leeds

ParalympicsGB won 147 medals in Rio including 64 golds, 39 silvers and 44 bronze.

The squad emulated the success of the nation’s Olympic squad, who beat their performance at London 2012 to take home the biggest ever medal haul of 67 medals.

At the Paralympics, Leeds powerlifter Ali Jawad battled to win a silver medal in weighlifting at his third games.

And triple gold medalist David Stone, from the city, was on the podium for cycling bronze. Leeds swimmer Claire Cashmore also secured silver at this summer’s games.

The region’s Paralympic and Olympic athletes will be celebrated at a homecoming parade in Leeds on September 28.