#EveryRoadtoRio Blogs: Kadeena Cox

Published 30 May 2016

Kadeena Cox is a world champion in two different sports, setting world records in each. With 100 days to go until the Rio 2016 Paralympics, Kadeena reflects on her rapid ascent as she aims to become the first Paralympic champion in different two sports in 28 years.

UPS AND DOWNS

The last two years have been a rollercoaster of a journey for me. I have been involved in athletics all my life, so when I was diagnosed as having multiple sclerosis in September 2014, my world crashed down on me. 

I didn’t want this setback to define me, so I put all my energy into a transition into para-sport. Having not been a keen cyclist growing up, I thought I’d try my luck in the velodrome to see if the speed I put down on the track translated on to two wheels. If you’ve ever been on the track, you’ll realise how steep it is, but having that fearless approach, I got on and have never looked back. 

Having gone through all the relevant time trials I was on the radar of British Cycling as a Paralympic hopeful, which was a real boost after a tough period going through the rehabilitation process. To make my life more hectic, I made the decision to travel to the IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha, Qatar, where I made my senior international debut for British Athletics.

Even though it was October, the heat was spiralling over 30 degrees meaning that I had to discover coping strategies as the MS has caused me to become heat intolerant. This caused me to have significant spasms, which ultimately affected my training, preparation and left me concerned about my upcoming competition. However, the support of the medical team was invaluable in getting me to a stage where I was comfortable and maintaining a cool body temperature. The experience was a real learning curve about what works for me and that will be a good base for future competitions when faced with extreme climate.

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RISE TO THE CHALLENGE

After all the nerves had settled, I was in the blocks for the T37 100m semi-final and I was about to put my name in the history books. Never did I imagine in my wildest dreams that I would break the world record, but that was a reality for me now. The emotion and elation was clear to see, but I had to regroup and prepare myself for the final. After getting the first race out of my legs, it was now the chance to put myself in medal contention. Fortunately I did just that and took home the gold medal, which was an amazing feeling. To make that moment even more special, I shared the podium with my teammate Georgie Hermitage, who herself had a breakthrough, winning two golds and a silver medal on her first outing with the British team at a major championships. 

I was then faced with the difficult decision of whether my future sat in athletics or cycling? Never one to shirk a challenge, I am now embarking on a journey to compete in Rio in both events. It’s going to be a grueling schedule should I secure my selection for the Games, but given the stability of MS as an illness, I want to maximise the opportunities I have in front of me now without looking back and saying 'what if?' 

I’m fortunate enough to have a great team behind me in the form of British Cycling and British Athletics along with my coaches. That combined with the continued support from the National Lottery, which enables me to train full-time and access the best facilities and support staff, I am excited about what lies ahead on the road to Rio.

Kadeena Cox is one of 1,300 athletes supported by UK Sport’s National Lottery funded World Class Programme.

Follow Kadeena further on her road to Rio on Twitter @kad_c

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