Kadeena Cox, from Leeds, is the first British athlete in more than 30 years to win two gold medals in two different sports at the Paralympics. She is taking part in this year’s series of The Jump.
What is your first Yorkshire memory? I used to spend a lot of time out on the street in Chapeltown where I’m from. We lived in Hillcrest Avenue and I remember being on my roller skates and tripping over and grazing my knees. My first bike was a yellow trike with number one on it. I used to pedal a lot when I was growing up. Sport was naturally such a big part of my life. My mum said I always ran before I walked I was so active. From the age of four I was dancing and I can clearly remember a race against five boys, lining up in the middle of the street and beating them all.
What is your favourite part of Yorkshire and why? I would say the Dales because they are so beautiful. When you come from the hustle and bustle of Leeds, to be able to get away from everything and to have a clear head is amazing. I love Bolton Abbey and I’d be seven or eight when we first went up there. We were running everywhere and also on bikes and scooters. It’s such a lovely place.
Do you have a favourite view? I spend a lot of time driving back from Manchester to Leeds, and I just love the view at night as you come into Leeds. You see the lights and the whole of the city. Leeds is such an up and coming place.
What is your idea of a perfect day out or weekend out in Yorkshire? I love to go to Flamingo Land, near Malton. Going back there reminds me of my childhood. You can be a big kid again, going on all the rides and seeing the animals. It’s just fun and I love flamingos and pink is my favourite colour.
Which Yorkshire sportsman or woman, past or present, would you like to take out for lunch? Jessica Ennis Hill. She’s an amazing athlete when you consider that as Olympic champion, she came back a year after having a baby and became world champion and then went to Rio and came so close to getting another gold. Jessica epitomises what Yorkshire’s about. She’s just a genuine, lovely person. She’s not big-headed and has time for everyone. It would be nice to talk to Jessica about her pathways into sport and how she has dealt with the different challenges. It would help me to do that.
Which Yorkshire stage or screen star, past or present, would you like to take out for dinner? Kaiser Chiefs from Leeds because they are from a different walk of life. I liked their music as a kid, but not so much now because tastes change as you get older. I’d like to discuss with them if we have any similarities in the challenges we’ve faced.
What do you think it is that gives Yorkshire its unique identity? The people. Everyone’s nice, they help you and people smile. You go down to London, people bump into you and you seem an irrelevant person. But in Leeds, you can have a genuine conversation with someone you’ve never come across before. Everyone in Yorkshire has been so supportive, whether it’s through fundraising or with the help of my coaches and teachers. Friends and the community have helped massively to get my medals and that wouldn’t happen anywhere else.
Do you follow other sports in the county and, if so, what? I’m interested in cricket. My dad, Steve Linton, was a good league cricketer. He played in Ireland for a time and kept breaking the batting records there. I am a football fan, but I don’t support, I am afraid, a Yorkshire club. I’m an Arsenal fan because my dad is based in north London, not far from the Emirates Stadium.
Do you have a favourite pub or restaurant in Yorkshire? As a student in Leeds, I spent a lot of time in Headingley and when I come back from Manchester, I meet my friends in The Arc. It’s our go-to place, it has nice cocktails, it’s chilled out and you meet people from different walks of life. As for my favourite restaurant, I like the Brazilian place Fazenda, which was the first restaurant I went to after I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
Who is the Yorkshire person you admire the most? My family have been amazing and I also had great support from my teachers at Wetherby High School – Sue Bowles, Jenny McCartney, Nick Nightingale, Gareth King and Julie Smyth. They constantly pushed me into different sports and helped me get into university with their references. They’ve been very influential and so is Brian Scobie, my athletics coach. He travels to Leeds by bus from where lives between Bradford and Halifax. It takes Brian two hours to see me.
How do you think Yorkshire has changed for the better or worse since you’ve known it? I think it has changed for the better. Look at Leeds with the new John Lewis and the Trinity shopping and leisure centre. Sheffield, too, is improving. A lot of people travel to Yorkshire and they like it. We are still a little behind the South in terms of sports facilities which is a shame, but the football academies here are good.
If a stranger came to Yorkshire and had time to visit one place only, where would that be? I’d probably say Filey. I love Filey. We used to go there from school and again it reminds me of my childhood. It’s a place for the family where you can play on the beach, buy some rock, get chips and walk around in the fresh air. The coast is beautiful there.