WHEN she left Leeds for the Rio Paralympics, Kadeena Cox was a largely unheralded competitor who harboured dreams of winning gold medals in two separate sports.
Now she is the new poster girl of Team GB after exceeding her own expectations – and winning the hearts of the nation – thanks to her prowess, personality and fearless will to win.
It’s why words cannot do justice to her emotional reunion with relatives at Heathrow Airport today. They knew the heartbreak Kadeena suffered when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis – and they also knew that this would probably be the 25-year-old’s best chance of making her mark on the world.
Ms Cox said: “There’s been so many amazing performances and so many people have done great things here.”
Other champions from Yorkshire at the games include wheelchair racer Hannah Cockroft, from Halifax, who won her third gold medal at the games last week.
Cycling golds were secured by Calderdale’s Karen Darke, as well as by Steve Bate and his pilot, Adam Duggleby, in the tandem.
As she touched down, the Queen described the achievements of Britain’s Paralympic athletes as a “magnificent performance” in a message sent to the sportsmen and women.
The Rio Games saw ParalympicsGB win 64 golds, the most by a British team since 1988, and a total of 147 medals.
Great Britain’s most decorated female Paralympic athlete, Dame Sarah Storey, said the atmosphere during the games in Rio was just as electric as it was in London in 2012. Storey won three gold medals in cycling in Rio.
She told The Yorkshire 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.”
Sheffield’s Grace Clough won a gold medal in the rowing.
The Paralympic squad emulated the success of the nation’s Olympic squad, who bettered their performance at London 2012 to take home the biggest ever medal haul of 67 medals.
Also among the Yorkshire stars of the Paralympics was Leeds powerlifter Ali Jawad, who bagged a silver medal in weightlifting at his third games.
And triple gold medalist David Stone, from Leeds, won bronze in cycling.
Claire Cashmore, also from the city, secured silver.
The region’s Paralympic and Olympic athletes are now to be celebrated at a homecoming parade in Leeds.
It takes place on September 28 and the athletes will travel around the city centre on an open top bus.
The achievements of Yorkshire’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes in Rio will be celebrated at a homecoming parade in Leeds.
The city is organising the ‘Rio Heroes’ celebration on September 28, and a host of athletes have already added their names to the list of attendees taking part, including Hannah Cockroft, from Halifax, and Harrogate’s Jack Laugher.
Triathlon sensations the Brownlee brothers will also be attending.
The event is being organised in partnership with Welcome to Yorkshire and other councils in the region. Athletes will travel around the city centre on an open top bus.