Interview: Paralympian Kadeena Cox jumping at chance to be Olympic star for all seasons

Final flourish: Kedeena Cox will appear in the final of Channel 4s reality sport show The Jump tomorrow night. (Picture: Steve Brown/Channel 4/PA)
Final flourish: Kedeena Cox will appear in the final of Channel 4s reality sport show The Jump tomorrow night. (Picture: Steve Brown/Channel 4/PA)
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LEEDS sprinting and cycling star Kadeena Cox still gets emotional when watching replays of her Rio 2016 Paralympic glories.

The 25-year-old will look to win something rather different tomorrow evening when competing in the final of Channel 4 series The Jump in which celebrities try to master various winter sports.

A show tailor-made for Cox, who is refusing to settle for her Rio joys and targeting an amazing five gold medals at Tokyo 2020 before bidding to compete in the Winter 2022 Olympics in Beijing. If Cox has her way, even a place on the able-bodied British cycling team could also be on the agenda.

Chapeltown-raised Cox won both the T38 – 400m and cycling’s C-4-5 time trial at last year’s Paralympics in Rio, becoming the first British Paralympian in 32 years to win golds in multiple sports at the same Games. Cox was emulating 1984 hero Isabel Barr, who competed and medalled in discus, swimming and shooting at that year’s Games.

But fuelled by her already brilliant success in South America, Cox is shooting for the stars with extremely ambitious targets set as far as future Olympics and even Winter Olympics are concerned.

The Leeds athlete had initially hoped to represent Team GB in the able-bodied 100m at the Rio 2016 Olympics but was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis after suffering a stroke in 2014.

Two years later, she was still back on top of the podium twice as part of a four-medal haul that also included silver in the T35-T38 4×100m relay and bronze in the T38 100m.

Cox is eyeing an even more lucrative haul at the next Olympics at Tokyo 2020 and the Beijing Winter Games in 2022.

Explaining her plans to challenge for five gold medals in Tokyo, Cox revealed: “Before we went out to Rio I was in pretty good shape and I decided that I would be pretty good at the cycling 3K pursuit. I did mention it to my cycling coach after and his response was ‘stick to what you are good at!’

“But I would like to be able to do another event and my best friend, Helen Scott, did the tandem in Rio and managed to get a bronze when nobody thought she would get anywhere.

Great Britain's Kadeena Cox celebrates with her gold medal won in the Women's C4-5 500m Time Trial final at the Olympic Veleodrome during the third day of the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire)

Great Britain's Kadeena Cox celebrates with her gold medal won in the Women's C4-5 500m Time Trial final at the Olympic Veleodrome during the third day of the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire)

“You can do anything if you put your mind to it and I’d also love the opportunity to be able to do a Summer Games and then a Winter Games within the same cycle.

“But there’s a lot of things I want to focus on and, at some point, I want to be able to take on cycling with the able-bodied team. I spoke to Bradley Wiggins and he thinks I would be able to cycle as an able-bodied cyclist and get on the team if I focus on just one sport, so I am not sure about that. We’ll see what happens with the cycling. I am still really new to it.”

New to cycling and still new to the public eye in general though Cox’s increased fame could move up another notch with victory in The Jump. Her appearance in the TV show led to the athlete’s funding being temporarily suspended by UK Sport, which Cox had no gripes with.

“I am doing something else that isn’t to do with my sport,” said Cox. “It’s like saying I am taking a six-month sabbatical from work but still wanting to get paid.”

But there’s a lot of things I want to focus on and, at some point, I want to be able to take on cycling with the able-bodied team. I spoke to Bradley Wiggins and he thinks I would be able to cycle as an able-bodied cyclist and get on the team if I focus on just one sport, so I am not sure about that.

Kadeena Cox

Funding will resume once her TV escapades have finished and Cox could also be celebrating next weekend as she has been shortlisted for two awards at Saturday’s Lycamobile British Ethnic Diversity Sports Awards, organised by charity Sporting Equals.

Away from the track, she will also be taking a work placement through her physiotherapy studies at Manchester Met University but this year’s main sporting aims then concern the athletics world championships in London this summer.

The 2018 Commonwealth Games and Cycling world championships are other big aims –with all roads potentially leading to the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Cox revealed: “I have already been contacted by British Skeleton and British Bobsleigh.

“I did trials with them before and I was trying to do a sports transfer and one of the skeleton coaches Tweeted me saying it was about time I managed to get on a track and that I did a great job of it. Then I have had British Bobsleigh messaging me saying ‘if you fancy trying it out then give us a shout’. It’s pretty cool.

“Everyone keeps saying that two sports is boring and that I have got to up it, so I feel like I need to take on a third sport!”

Kadeena Cox, of Chapeltown, Leeds, was diagnosis with Multiple sclerosis, at the age of 23. Following on from her diagnosis, Kadeena had a memorable Paralympic year.

Kadeena Cox, of Chapeltown, Leeds, was diagnosis with Multiple sclerosis, at the age of 23. Following on from her diagnosis, Kadeena had a memorable Paralympic year.