Two golds and two world records: Kadeena Cox, MMU Hero
The Northern Quota’s editor, Miles Casey, went to catch up with Kadeena following her amazing summer at Rio 2016.
Kadeena, a MMU Sports student and the first Brit since Isabel Barr in the 1984 Summer Paralympics to win gold medals in two different sports (the T38 400m sprint and C4-5 cycling time trial) embodies everything that London 2012 helped to create: A passion for sport, resolve to overcome the greatest odds and a sense of giving back. Kadeena has it all, and then some.
A refusal to be defined by her MS symbolises Kadeena’s general attitude towards life: it is what you make of it, so seize the opportunities you are given. You might not get them again. In fact, the only thing that seemed to phase Kadeena was her reclassification from T37 to T38:
“In the athletics, I dropped down the rankings quite a bit. I went from being the world record holder and world champion, to being ninth in the world in 100m, which is my main event. That totally threw me.”
Surprisingly, and a testament to Kadeena’s character, the two world records and respective Golds were not her proudest achievement of the games. It seemed like she felt these belonged to her, a given right. It was her Bronze in the reclassified 100m T38 sprint that was a personal highlight, as it allowed her to thrive under the pressure:
“My Bronze medal is the one that means the most to me because I worked so hard for that. I was ninth in the world, I shouldn’t have even made the final. So to have made the final and medal, and beat some outstanding athletes, that was amazing.”
“I just took the classification thing in my stride, and tried to make the most of it. It’s a challenge, and I love a challenge! If someone says: ‘Kadeena, you can’t do it,’ and I am going to throw everything I have at it, and try my hardest to do it. That’s just what I did. I’m a hard worker, and when I need to dig in, I always dig in.”
It would be easy, you’d think, to get carried away after winning four medals (2 Golds, 1 Silver and 1 Bronze), but with Kadeena it’s different. Her hunger for more medals, for more records is only matched by the sense of community and giving back to those who helped pave the way. Kadeena made no attempts to overlook the impact that MMU Sport had on her development as an athlete, crediting the University’s staff, especially after their help when she was first diagnosed with MS.
“There was a lot of mothering, I was still trying to come in and act like everything was normal. But they took me aside and told me I needed to get some rest. I owe so much to the staff for the help and motivation they’ve given me over the years. It’s important to remember where you came from.”
It was hard trying to find questions Kadeena had not been asked before. After her triumphant summer, every news outlet in the country wanted a piece of Britain’s newest star. Maybe it was the way I phrased it, maybe it was the first time she’d thought about it in depth, but when I asked her what it felt like to know she was the fastest person in the world, ever, in two different sports, Kadeena hesitated, before replying:
“I know, it’s weird! I say it, but don’t really think about it. But when you do think about it; ‘no one’s actually as quick as me… That’s cool. It’s cool. That’s an odd choice of words to use, but it is pretty cool.”
Most people would be star-struck by meeting a sporting great. Not Kadeena. It was evident that while she was humbled to be competing with, and against, some of the greatest living athletes, her desire to beat these legends was greater.
“I was competing with, and against, Dame Sarah Storey, but I didn’t let her status phase me. As soon as I was in that block it was just another person to beat!”
When asked about the prospects of Tokyo 2020, Kadeena gave a reserved response, due to the uncertainty of her MS.
“It’s a day to day thing, rather than a year-by-year. I hope to be competing by then, but there’s so many other events between now and then to keep myself focused on. We have the IAAF World Championships in London next Summer, and the Commonwealth Games after that, so there’s no real break in the athletics schedule.”
Brazen, determined but grounded. This is how I’d describe Kadeena after our interview. I can only see a brighter and brighter future for Britain’s hottest new prospect in athletics.
Watch my interview with Kadeena below: