How Leeds paralympian Kadeena Cox’s ‘phenomenal’ ability helped seal cycling gold
KADEENA COX’S ‘phenomenal’ ability to deliver when the pressure was on propelled British Cycling to their ‘oh my god’ moment at the Paralympic Games, reckons team-mate Jaco van Gass.
Leeds ace Cox, Van Gass and Jody Cundy captured hearts in Tokyo by storming to team sprint gold in a trio that represented the best of modern Britain.
They sped to glory in world record time at the Izu Velodrome to finally topple the Chinese – who broke the previous world record in qualifying – and extend a golden summer for Paralympics GB’s cycling stars.
Evergreen Cundy, 42, joined forces with Parachute Regiment veteran Van Gass – who moved to Britain from South Africa – and Cox, who is the daughter of Jamaican migrants.
The triumph marked Cox’s fourth Paralympic gold medal and Van Gass, who also claimed individual pursuit glory in Japan, says the dual sprint and cycling star turning it on when it mattered held the key to their success.
“Kadeena’s Kadeena – she’s phenomenal,” said Van Gass, one of over 1,000 athletes who are able to train full-time, access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support thanks to vital National Lottery funding.
“She’s phenomenal at what she does – the times she was putting out were truly unbelievable.
“We’d not seen that in training – she was pretty much a second quicker than she was in training – and that’s quite a lot in that environment.
“That was a shock, but that’s also where Jody’s experience came in – he said: “just don’t worry about it and don’t let that beat you up, this is how you’re going to better it. Kadeena is a phenomenal racer.
“We knew we were a good team and we knew that on the day, if each and every athlete did what they potentially can do, we could win.
“Every time we did train together it never clicked, but it just clicked for that one race and that one moment.”
“When it mattered more than any time before, it all came together. We’d been chasing the Chinese for the last three years, and to beat them by the small margin we did, we still beat them.”
Cox, Van Gass and Cundy were left in the rear-view mirror in qualifying as the Chinese team sped to a blistering world record.
They stopped the clock in a time of 48.051s to solidify their superiority and leave the Brits with a mountain to climb.
But Cox, who also won time trial gold in Tokyo, came flying out of the blocks in the final to lay the foundations for a remarkable world record of 47.579s and stun the Chinese outfit.
Cox also racked up gold, silver and bronze medals across the 400m and 100m at Rio 2016 and now has a total of six Paralympic gongs to her name.
Her team sprint triumph represented one of 24 medals won by British Cycling in Japan and Van Gass, who also banked bronze in the individual time trial, says he’s never felt prouder to be part of such a special contingent.
“It’s wonderful being part of that team,” added the British Army veteran, whose medals were three of 1,000-plus achieved by British athletes since the advent of National Lottery funding to elite sport in 1997.
“To be part of that team is a great honour – and it’s wonderful to share the moment with all these riders.
“We all came together when we needed to and when we needed to perform. We all had a job to do – and we all did that to the best of our ability.”
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