Paralympic gold medallist Kadeena Cox launches academy in her quest to break down racial barriers in cycling
Leeds Paralympian Kadeena Cox has launched her own cycling academy offering mentoring and support to black cyclists trying to break into the elite level.
Riders at the newly-launched KC Academy will receive support including mentoring from the Chapeltown-raised athlete, nutrition advice, mental health coaching and access to inspirational speakers.
Kadeena said she hopes the venture will help produce a new generation of black cyclists at the top of the sport.
She said: “Representation is so key. My mum will testify that I was on a bike from a very young age, speeding around the streets.
"But doing athletics was so much more relatable for me — there was Jeanette Kwakye, Donna Fraser, Christine Ohuruogu, who I could look up to.
"In cycling, there wasn’t. Now, there’s chance to get more people like me higher up so the next generation of kids think they can do that.”
Kadeena often returns to Leeds to deliver talks at the schools she attended.
She explained: "I want to make a difference and show the kids there that you don’t have to be a stereotype, you can separate yourself from what people expect.
“You see so many kids riding around the area on bikes but being able to get an expensive bike or into a velodrome don’t seem reachable.
"They made a big deal of the Tour de Yorkshire in the area but, for the kids who ride around on bikes, it’s never seen as anything more than that — they just can’t associate themselves with that.
"When you don’t see someone like you doing that, it’s quite hard to see yourself doing that.”
Kadeena said she has adapted to being in environments where there is “not much diversity” since she was a child.
She said: “Stepping into the cycling world, it felt very much the same. It’s sad, in a way, because you feel like you have to put on a mask and act a certain way.”
Rhianna Parris-Smith, an 18-year-old rider in the academy, said. “Being part of an academy with people like you, who look like you and have the same interests as you, trying to get to the highest level, is like a little community. You benefit from everyone around you.”