Kadeena Cox MBE

Athlete

The standout story from Rio 2016 Paralympics, Kadeena became the first British athlete to win gold medals from two different sports in the same Games for over 30 years; becoming Paralympic champion and setting new world records in both the C4-5 Time Trial in Cycling and T38 400m in Athletics. With a hugely inspiring story full of overcoming seemingly impossible obstacles coupled with truly remarkable performances, Kadeena rose to the top of the world, was given the honour of being the Team GB flagbearer at the closing ceremony in Rio and will undoubtedly be at the forefront of British sport for years to come.

Having been a hockey enthusiast in her former years, Kadeena turned to athletics and sprinting at the age of 15. Over the next three years she excelled at national level, winning bronze in the 60-metre sprint at both the England Athletics Open Championships and the Manchester Open before claiming a Bronze medal at the Olympic Stadium in the BUCS Championships. An accomplished athlete with a dream to represent Team GB at an Olympic Games, Kadeena was exploring opportunities to try her hand as a winter Olympian with GB bobsleigh having successfully gone through some of the Talent ID testing before her life dramatically changed in May 2014. Kadeena had a stroke and was hospitalised for two months before ‘fully recovering’ and returning to normal health. Less than two months later Kadeena was back in hospital with concerns that she had suffered another stroke but was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a neurological condition often aggravated by exercise and exertion. It seemed at once to spell the end of any athletic career.

Viewing such a life changing event differently, Kadeena promised herself that her life will not revolve around MS, MS will revolve around her and was determined to get back to doing what she enjoys; being active and participating in sport. Upon receiving news from the doctors that she may one day be able to run again, she channelled her energy to realising that day. Just over a year later, Kadeena became a double world Para-athlete Champion and a world Para-cyclist champion, on both occasions competing in her first ever global competition.

Having been crowned 100m world Champion in T37 athletics, Kadeena’s place in Team GB Paralympic squad came into jeopardy when just two months before the Rio Paralympics, she was reclassified as a more able-bodied athlete. No stranger to such drama, Kadeena was reclassified to a more able-bodied category the day before her debut race at UCI Para-Cycling World Championships where she still went on to win a gold medal in a record time. Taking the classification change in her stride, Kadeena once again overcame all to take cycling gold in the C5 500m time trial in a new world record time and athletics gold in the T38 400m in a new world record time, a silver in the T35-38 4x100m relay and a bronze in the T38 100m. Astounding her peers, she was subsequently selected as the flag-bearer for the British team at the closing ceremony and her achievements led her to be named Sunday Times Paralympic athlete of the Year, recipient of SJA Paralympic achievement, nominated for BBC Sports Personality Of The Year amongst a host of other accolades culminating in Kadeena being appointed a Member of the British Empire.

An extraordinary never give up and anything is possible outlook on life, Kadeena is a hugely moving person that is keen to continue to inspire the world to not let anything hold you back. With plans to compete in both the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics – her cycling time-trial would have placed her 7th in Rio Olympics, Kadeena not only plans to become the first person to win medals in both Games but wants to compete at the 2022 Winter Olympics. Seemingly impossible, Kadeena doesn’t do limits and has already made the impossible become normal; after all she only started cycling 18 months before Rio upon advice from physiotherapists that it may aid her recovery…

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