Leeds Paralympic stars enjoy gold medal blitz in Tokyo

IT was a weekend to remember for Leeds athletes at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo as Kadeena Cox, Ellen Buttrick and Hannah Cockroft all claimed gold medals with blistering performances.

Sunday, 29th August 2021, 6:00 pm
Leeds’ Ellen Buttrick (far left) celebrates with team-mates Giedre Rakauskaite, James Fox, Oliver Stanhope and cox Erin Kennedy after winning gold in the PR3 mixed coxed four. Picture: Naomi Baker/Getty Images.

Cox was part of the mixed sprint cycling team alongside Jaco van Gass and Jody Cund that took first place on the podium, crossing the line just over a 10th of a second ahead of the Chinese team in world record time.

The 30-year-old from Leeds rode a blistering first lap to lay the foundation for victory in a huge world record of 47.579 seconds, adding to her time trial gold a day earlier.

“It was so good to have a female on the podium, that female just happened to be me,” she said.

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Hannah Cockroft is pictured on her victory lap after winning the T34 100m. Picture: PA.

“But it’s great to see. It’s a mixed team sprint and I think it should be mixed. It’s nice to be a woman in there.

“The Chinese guys are amazing, they beat us at worlds and doing world records, but I’ve got two amazing guys beside me and I knew with them we could absolutely nail it. I want to be a role model to women, to people from my background, to empower people and let them know that nothing should hold them back.

“I could sit back and be scared, say I’m racing a team of amazing guys, but I’m a great athlete in my own right and have two amazing athletes alongside me.

“So if you put your mind to something you can absolutely nail it. I’ve not gone sub-20 before and I did it twice in 24 hours. You can do whatever you put your mind to.”

Kadeena Cox, centre, with Jody Cundy, left, and Jaco van Gass after their triumph in the mixed team sprint cycling. Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.

Meanwhile, Leeds City Athletics Club’s Cockroft also broke the world record en route to victory in the T34 100m – the sixth gold medal of her illustrious Paralympic career.

The 29-year-old lowered her own global best by 0.18 seconds at the National Stadium in Tokyo, with compatriot Kare Adenegan in second.

“I honestly didn’t know that time was within me,” said Cockroft. “I knew that Kare was going to move out of the blocks, and I had to go with her as best I could.

“She just pulled a good time out of me. It has been coming, it has always been there hiding, it has just taken a few years to show its face.”

Asked about potentially topping the medal haul of 11 set by Paralympic racing great Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson between 1992 and 2004, Cockroft replied: “I’m halfway and I’m three Games in. I’m 29, guys! I don’t know if I can do another three Games.

“It’s there, it’s in the distance. This sport has changed so much since Tanni. She left a legacy, we just have to keep bringing more young girls into the sport. If I have to keep beating them, awesome.”

She can close that gap further in the 800m final on Saturday.

Leeds Rowing Club’s Buttrick was part of Team GB’s PR3 mixed coxed four alongside Giedre Rakauskaite, James Fox and Ollie Stanhope, plus cox Erin Kennedy that cruised to victory at Sea Forest Waterway today.

The quartet finished in 6:49.24 minutes, more than 11 seconds ahead of the United States and almost 18 seconds clear of bronze medallists France.

Meanwhile, Normanton’s Jamie Stead was part of the mixed wheelchair rugby team that won the gold medal.