Leeds’s own Kadeena Cox was overcome with emotion after defying the doubters by winning Paralympic cycling gold, 24 hours after taking bronze in athletics and two years after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
The 25-year-old from Leeds won a sensational gold in the women’s C4/C5 500 metres time-trial on Saturday to become the first Briton in 28 years to win medals in two sports at the same Paralympics.
It was one of three gold medals for Britain on day three of the Games as ParalympicsGB’s tally moved to 35, 15 of them gold.
Andy Lewis won PT2 triathlon gold as the sport made its Paralympic debut at Copacabana beach, while Hannah Cockroft’s T34 100m gold was one of four British athletics medals in six minutes at the Olympic Stadium.
But the day’s undoubted British highlight was Cox, who claimed T38 100m bronze on the athletics track on Friday night and emulated Isabel Barr’s success from 1988 in Seoul.
Cox was tearful on the podium, recalling her two-year journey from stroke symptoms in May 2014 which were later diagnosed as MS, a progressive disease which made her determined to compete in two sports in Rio.
“I’m just so happy that I’ve finally done it and I’ve got so far - this time two years ago I was at home, about to go into hospital to get my MS diagnosis,” she said.
“To have come this far in such a short period of time is just a relief. I’m glad that I’ve done it.
“A lot of people thought I wouldn’t be able to and there were moments when I doubted myself.
“But I knew when the classification got changed it was going to be the point where I worked my hardest.
“I absolutely dug in and gave it everything. I knew on my day I’d be good enough to beat anyone and I’ve done it.”
World champion Cox won gold in a world record of 35.716 seconds.
The event was factored in her favour, so her time was rounded down to 34.598secs, but she was quicker than everyone else regardless.
Dame Sarah Storey was the defending champion, but fully expected Cox - with the factor in her favour - to beat her.
And Cox, who was reclassified ahead of March’s Track World Championships, but still won gold, delivered. Storey was fourth and Crystal Lane was fifth.
Cox was elated after her athletics bronze behind team-mate Sophie Hahn on Friday, but had immediately jumped on a bike to begin the transition for the velodrome. And she was relaxed on Saturday ahead of her historic ride.
“I didn’t come down as quickly as I wanted to - I was on a high,” she added.
“I jumped on my bike as soon as I got off the athletics track, just to get back into bike mode.
“Today I was plaiting people’s hair and watching (film) Coach Carter.”
Cox is scheduled to return to the athletics track in the T36-38 4x100m relay and T38 400m, while she is also entered in cycling’s road race on the penultimate day of the Games. It will be her first road race.
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