Leeds's own Kadeena Cox eyeing more glory at Paralympics and Winter Olympics
CHAPELTOWN-raised Kadeena Cox is already the first British Paralympian to win golds in multiple sports for 32 years.
No British athlete has conquered two different sports at a Paralympics since Isabel Barr in 1984.
Incredibly, Barr bagged golds in three different sports having headed the podium in swimming, shooting and discus.
Yet in six years’ time Cox might even have mastered that amazing feat, with the Leeds star aiming not just more glory at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics but also in 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
Cox, 25, has certainly already proved her versatility.
The former 100m runner was intent on taking on the likes of Elaine Thompson, Tori Bowie and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce at the Rio Olympics proper yet the athlete’s entire world changed in May 2014 when suffering a stroke.
After eventually recovering, extensive tests revealed that Cox had Multiple Sclerosis.
Determined to still fulfil her dreams in medalling for Team GB, Cox set her sights on conquering the Paralympics and became classified as both a T37 track and field athlete and a C2 track cyclist.
Less than two years later, Cox was crowned Paralympic champion in the 400m – T38 event, as well as in the C 4-5 time trial.
Brilliantly, Leeds’ newest sporting star also secured a silver in the T35-T38 4x100m relay and a bronze in the 100m – T38.
Some going for a girl only diagnosed with MS less than two years earlier.
Yet if Cox has her way, the athlete’s biggest and best is yet to come, with the Yorkshire star targeting an amazing four gold-medal haul at Tokyo 2020 and then the icing on the cake in the Winter Olympics two years later.
A gold medal in Beijing would see Cox – in a fashion – also equal the achievements of 1984 heroine Barr.
Taking ten minutes out of a visit to Manchester Metropolitan University where the athlete is studying for a degree in physiotherapy, Cox told the YEP: “I do take each year at a time and next year we have obviously got the athletics World Championships in London which is a really big one for me. Having not done London 2012, it’s going to be really exciting to be in London and to perform there.
“And then the following year we have got the cycling World Championships and the athletics Europeans and the Commonwealth Games where I have got an athletics event while also finishing the third year of my degree which is going to be interesting!
“The following year it’s another World Championships for both sports and then it’s 2020.
“I don’t tend to think that far ahead but it all comes around so quickly and you start talking about different championships in different years.
“In 2020 I want to go out there and obviously defend my titles and do a bit better in the two events that I got a silver and a bronze in.
“I wanted to get the four golds this time and I am going to go out to Tokyo and get the four golds that I wanted this time. And then I do really want to do the winter sports.
“I was playing around with the skeleton before I got ill and I wasn’t allowed to do it because of the stroke and in case of putting the brain at risk of anything else happening.
“So I want to do something like the two man bob at the Winter Olympics 2022 so if I can find a partner I really want to do a summer Games and a winter Games in one cycle.
“2022 would be exciting and I’d probably quit after that!”
But whatever the next six years holds, Cox can already be mightily proud of her efforts.
Having held high hopes of competing in this summer’s Rio Games before first falling ill, the Leeds star was not prepared to let MS beat her.
“It was tricky to begin with,” said Cox, recalling the day when she was diagnosed.
“When I got the MS diagnosis, literally a couple of weeks before that I had been on a placement working with people with MS and people that were severe and were pretty non independent. So I went back and spoke to them and I got a little bit more of an understanding and I went back to uni and did a bit of work there about MS.
“I got a bit of an understanding and I just knew that I was going to be able to achieve my goals, even though it was going to be hard.
“I know a lot of people just go into a world of depression and think ‘it’s the end’ but I just didn’t want to accept it as a death sentence and I wasn’t ever going to let it defy me in any way.
“I just went out there and continued to do what I wanted to achieve and I said it publicly so I had to it!”
The aims for 2020 and 2022 are also now loud and clear, but first up comes some much needed time to recharge the batteries, followed by the prospect of celebrating Christmas back home in Chapeltown.
Cox went on holiday to Turkey with a friend immediately after her Rio triumph but was continually bombarded by emails and phone calls.
The Paralympics ace hopes a forthcoming break to the Cape Verde Islands will be more relaxing.
But there will be nothing tranquil about Christmas for Cox who has six siblings and will spend Christmas Day at her grandma Pearline’s with her large family.
Cox’s mum, Jasmin, has six siblings and Cox can expect plenty of toasts of cheers after a memorable 2016.
Cox pondered: “I just want to push the boundaries and show people that even with setbacks and conditions like mine and illnesses you can still bounce back and achieve amazing things. It’s just kind of putting it out there so that people see what you can achieve.
“They look at me and obviously I am not saying go out and be Paralympic champion but they can look at me and think there’s hope and that there’s things they can achieve and that they can just do whatever they want to do to make them happy.
“I just want to show that it can be done.”