Kadeena Cox: Leeds’s own Paralympics star glad she kept faith with athletics after double Rio gold

Kadeena Cox.
Kadeena Cox.
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Kadeena Cox almost turned her back on athletics before becoming the first Briton in 32 years to win Paralympic titles in two sports at the same Games in Rio.

Cox competes in the World Para Athletics Championships, which start in London on Friday, bidding to add to her haul of two golds from the 2015 event in Doha.

That convinced her to continue to run on the track and last September the 26-year-old Leeds athlete won gold medals in track cycling and athletics at the Rio Paralympics.

Cox had contemplated quitting running as she struggled to accept her times were slower than prior to her multiple sclerosis diagnosis in 2014, when she was a promising non-disabled sprinter.

“Even though athletics is my first love, it’s a tricky one for me, just because of the situation I’m in now,” Cox, who won the T37 100m in Doha and relay gold, told Press Association Sport.

“I went from being able to do one time to being a lot slower. Even though I was better in the world, I found it quite hard to deal with mentally.

“It was actually just before the 2015 World Championships I was going to quit athletics and never go back.

“I was going to retire after that and just become a full-time cyclist.

“Then I went out there, performed well and remembered exactly why I love it. That was my reason for sticking with it.

“Having the combination of the cycling, that I’d never done before and had nothing to compare to, with the athletics brought back the love for athletics and reminded me why I love doing it.”

Sticking with two sports saw Cox surge to gold in the velodrome and on the athletics track in Rio, plus be named Britain’s flag bearer for the closing ceremony.

She added: “It’s changed my life sticking to that one. I’m glad I didn’t and I’ll now be able to compete at home.”

Cox took time out to take part in celebrity winter sports television series ‘The Jump’ and is focusing on athletics this year as she is also juggling her university studies in physiotherapy.

Despite her busy schedule, Cox is quietly confident she can add another world title after claiming T38 400m Paralympic gold and T38 100m bronze following reclassification.

She said: “I’m feeling quite optimistic. I wasn’t sure I was going to be in the position I’m in in terms of fitness.

“But training’s been going really well. I’m really looking forward to seeing what I can do.”

She had her 2015 world medals stolen from her car last month, but they were later returned following her social media appeal.

Cox likes to use her medals as motivation.

“It’s a special moment when you receive them, so just being able to remember that moment and want that feeling again drives you to achieve it again,” she added.

Cox first competes on Saturday’s second day of competition in the T38 200m.

She added: “At the World Championships in 2015, I was essentially a nobody. Nobody knew who I was.

“Now I’m ‘Kadeena Cox, two-time Paralympic champion’. I think people expect a lot more of me now and there’s a lot more pressure.

“But I try to put that to the back of my mind and just go out and enjoy it.”

The home highlight of Friday’s opening day is expected to be Hannah Cockroft as the five-time Paralympic champion wheelchair racer seeks a fourth straight T34 100m world title and her eighth in all.

* Make sure you are there to #fillthestadium when the world’s best athletes return to London for the World Para Athletics Championships July 14 to 23. £10 adult and £5 children’s tickets available across all 16 sessions at tickets.london2017athletics.com