A defiant Leeds athlete, who was told she had multiple sclerosis (MS) aged just 23, is set to follow her Rio dream – whether she’s on foot or on two wheels.
Kadeena Cox, from Chapeltown, was hoping to compete as a sprinter at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016 after a medal-strewn junior career when she was rushed to hospital over a suspected stroke last year.
After another bout of illness, Kadeena, now 24, was diagnosed with MS, a disease of the nervous system, and has since been dealing with the debilitating effects of her relapses such as muscle spasms that can make it difficult for her to walk.
Keen to fulfil her potential, Kadeena has taken up cycling and been classified as a C2 disabled rider. She will compete in her first paracycling event at the British Cycling National Track Championships today.
“Rio is pretty high up there as a priority and something I can do and everyone’s quite positive that I will be able to do it,” she said. “It’s about staying in one piece and, with my health being remitting relapsing MS, there is a chance I can have a relapse so it’s about trying to keep my health stable all the way to Rio.”
By managing her symptoms, changing her diet and focussing on a “quality not quantity” training regime, the physiotherapy student has had a successful season. She won three gold medals at the CPISRA World Games in August.
She took up cycling in June and impressed British Cycling coaches, prompting her entry into today’s competition as she also prepares for IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha next month as a sprinter.
Kadeena, who plans to make a decision on what sport to focus on next month, said: “Cycling’s not as uncomfortable for me and in terms of keeping me healthy it’s working quite well.
“I just want to compete and be the best I can be.”
She has launched a £5,000 fundraising campaign to help fund equipment and travel over the next year. Visit gofundme.com/hm4rk3tk to donate.
WHAT IS MS?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is typically first diagnosed in people in their 20s and 30s, with three times as many women as men affected.
The central nervous system condition is caused by damaged to the coating around nerve fibres.
This causes a wide range of symptoms including vision and balance problems, dizziness and fatigue.