Kadeena Cox was overcome with emotion after defying the doubters by winning Paralympic cycling gold, 24 hours after taking bronze in athletics and two years after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
The 25-year-old from Leeds won a stunning gold in the women’s C4/C5 500m time-trial on Saturday night to become the first Briton in 28 years to win medals in two sports at the same Paralympics.
It was one of three gold medals for Britain on day three of the Games.
Andy Lewis won PT2 triathlon gold as the sport made its Paralympic debut at Copacabana beach, while Halifax’s Hannah Cockroft’s T34 100m gold was one of four British athletics medals in six minutes at the Olympic Stadium.
But the weekend’s undoubted highlight was Cox, who claimed T38 100m bronze on the athletics track on Friday night and emulated Isabel Barr’s success from 1988 in Seoul.
Cox was tearful on the podium, recalling her two-year journey from stroke symptoms in May 2014 which were later diagnosed as MS, a progressive disease which made her determined to compete in two sports in Rio.
“I’m just so happy that I’ve finally done it and I’ve got so far – this time two years ago I was at home, about to go into hospital to get my MS diagnosis,” she said.
“To have come this far in such a short period of time is just a relief. I’m glad that I’ve done it.
“A lot of people thought I wouldn’t be able to and there were moments when I doubted myself.
“But I knew when the classification got changed it was going to be the point where I worked my hardest.
“I absolutely dug in and gave it everything. I knew on my day I’d be good enough to beat anyone and I’ve done it.”
World champion Cox won gold in a world record of 35.716 seconds.
The event was factored in her favour, so her time was rounded down to 34.598secs, but she was quicker than everyone else regardless.
Dame Sarah Storey was the defending champion, but fully expected Cox – with the factor in her favour – to beat her.
And Cox, who was reclassified ahead of March’s Track World Championships, but still won gold, delivered. Storey was fourth and Crystal Lane was fifth.
Cox is scheduled to return to the athletics track in the T36-38 4x100m relay and T38 400m, while she is also entered in cycling’s road race on the penultimate day of the Games. It will be her first road race.
Wheelchair racer Cockroft, who claimed her third Paralympic title and first of the Rio Games in a Paralympic record time of 17.42 seconds. Kare Adenegan, who is 15 and from Coventry, took silver.
Cockroft said: “The 100m is my favourite event – I have never been beaten over it and didn’t expect to be beaten over it.
“In my head winning one title was immense, it was fantastic in London, but you are a truly talented athlete if you can defend it.
“Now I feel the pressure is off.”
World champion Lewis, a lower leg amputee after a motorbike accident aged 16, earlier claimed Britain’s 13th gold medal and first of day three.
“I thought that I was dreaming,” said the 33-year-old from Lydney in Gloucestershire.
“When I came across that finish line, I held the tape in the air and wondered whether it was all real. I can’t believe that has happened. I’m just in shock, I’m Paralympic, world and European champion and perhaps I’ll have my first beer in two years now.”
Swimmer Alice Tai claimed Britain’s eighth medal of the day, with bronze in the S10 100m backstroke.