SHE’S had two bouts of severe illness this year – but a talented sprinter is refusing to give up her Olympic dreams.
Kadeena Cox was rushed to hospital having had a suspected stroke aged just 23.
After working hard to recover, she had another blow when she became ill again and was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS).
Despite everything, she is determined to reach her sporting goals.
“I am never giving up on my dreams,” she said.
“I want to get better to represent my country. Whether it’s as an able-bodied athlete or disabled, I am not giving up.”
Kadeena, from Chapeltown, Leeds, was a member of Leeds City Athletics Club, then joined Sale Harriers. Her achievements include reaching fourth best in the country at the 200m.
Earlier this year Kadeena, who is studying physiotherapy in Manchester, was competing in Loughbrough when she realised something was badly wrong.
“My legs just seemed to have a mind of their own and I wasn’t able to control what was going on,” she said.
“The next day I couldn’t walk properly, you couldn’t understand me and I couldn’t brush my teeth or my hair.”
At hospital she was told she had suffered a stroke but after months of therapy made a good recovery, spurred on by a place she had been offered on a talent programme for the winter sport of bob skeleton.
However she failed a medical test and so vowed to go back to sprinting, returning to training and doing well.
But in September she started feeling tingling and numbness in her arm and went to LGI, where she was diagnosed with MS.
“I burst out crying,” she said. “I just said ‘will I still be able to run?’
“It was at that point when I thought I couldn’t run again that I realised how important it was to me.
“The doctors are positive that I will be able to run again but not sure if it will be with a disability or without.”
Medics now think the earlier episode was MS.
However she is determined to go back to sprinting and hopes to reach the Rio Olympics or Paralympics in 2016.
She’s now launched a fundraising campaign to help meet the costs of travel, equipment and training as she can no longer work or drive.
“So many people have seen my diagnosis as a negative but I haven’t,” she said.
“It’s given me closure and I know I have a diagnosis with which I can move forward and get the right treatment to keep me well so I can strive towards my goals.”
Log on to www.talentbacker.com/talents/view/kadeena-cox to help Kadeena’s fundraising.
* Multiple sclerosis is typically first diagnosed in people in their 20s and 30s, with three times as many women as men affected.
The central nervous system condition is caused by damaged to the coating around nerve fibres.
This causes a wide range of symptoms including vision and balance problems, dizziness and fatigue.