MM special: 10 minutes with Kadeena Cox

Kadeena Cox holds up her Team GB backpack. “Feel how heavy that is!” she says, before placing it down and reaching into it for a yoghurt.

She then pulls out a wooden box containing one of her four medals from Rio 2016.

Then another. And another.

“They just get in the way sometimes,” she says as she pulls the final medal from her bag.

It had been a whirlwind couple of days for the 25-year-old. She recently attended the Pride of Britain Awards where she had to ask to borrow an Olympic gold medal because she forgot both of hers. She also managed to lose her lipstick.

“Oh my God the lipstick thing!” she exclaims, “I’m such a lipstick girl. I’m a pretty big Bake Off fan and I saw Candice at the awards. The first time I saw her on Bake Off I said to myself ‘That lipstick is amazing!’”

You get the impression that Cox hasn’t let her Paralympic success go to her head. That was until she mentioned her future appearance on Question of Sport.

“I have no idea who I’m going with, but I was like ‘I’m going on Question of Sport? I’ve made it!’

“I know that lots of different people have been on there from the Games,” she said.

After growing up in Leeds she moved to Manchester where she is now studying physiotherapy and is a sport scholar at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Cox started at university competing as an able-bodied athlete and won medals in sprinting at the 2012 British University Championships.

Her scholarship provides her with all the nutrition, strength and conditioning, and physio support that she needs and Cox says that the support she receives has helped her reach the next level after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2014.

“When I fell ill the staff all came into hospital to see me, and brought chocolate and cards. They are all really supportive.

“I get lots of support through British Cycling, but MMU still help me as much as they can, and whatever I need they try and sort it.”

Nothing exemplifies this care and support better than a Rio care package Cox received from MMU before flying out to the games.

“There was a neck pillow in it, and these really sick wireless and waterproof headphones.”

She laughs as she talks about finding out first hand just how waterproof they were.

“I put them in my shorts after training, and then put the shorts in the washing by accident. When I realised where they were, I found them and they still worked.”

Now she’s back from Rio, her attention returns to her studies. However, she admits that it will be difficult to get her head out of the intense focus that brought her success at the Paralympics.

“It’s daunting to be back at university when my head is full of cycling splits and not physiotherapy knowledge.

“I know that if they say ‘Right, we’re going to do this now’, all I’m going to think of is ‘7.5 seconds is a really good time!’”

Just like her refreshingly grounded approach, Cox is similarly keen to downplay future sporting success like she experienced this summer.

“What’s happening in Beijing?” she asks when quizzed on whether she’s more focused on Tokyo 2020 or Beijing 2022 for the Winter Olympics.

“Oh yeah, I wanna go to that!” she says of the Games that will make Beijing the first venue to host both the winter and summer Olympics.

Cox used to be part of the Great Britain skeleton training programme and she loves bobsleigh. With the two-man bobsleigh being added to the Olympics from 2022, Cox admits she is in some way looking to the future.

“I really want to do a summer and winter Games in the same cycle, so I’m aiming to hit Tokyo in 2020.

“I really want gold in the 100m. We need to get gold in the 4x100m, and obviously I want to retain my titles in the 400m and 500m time trial.”

The MMU student added that she wishes to emulate the most successful British female Paralympian in history Sarah Storey, and compete against able-bodied cyclists on the track.

“I think my 500m time is quicker than a lot of the able-bodied girls, so I really want to try and do what [Sarah Storey] did and go across able-bodied and Paralympic cycling.”

As Cox finishes off her yoghurt, the conversation turned to the last round of Champions League football. As a keen Arsenal fan, her eyes lit up at the mention of Mesut Özil’s late winner.

“Mate, don’t get me started. He’s back.”

During a whirlwind 10 minutes it’s a fairly safe assumption to say the stardom hasn’t gone to her head. 

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