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Female cycling SPOTY nominees: Kadeena Cox

We spoke to Cox, who has been cycling for just 18 months but scored a Gold in Rio

This year’s shortlist for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year includes three female cyclists – Dame Sarah Storey, Laura Kenny, and Kadeena Cox. The winner will be announced live, following a public vote, on Sunday December 18. 

On a star studded list of just sixteen contenders across all sports – shortlisted by an expert panel – we feel women’s cycling has done pretty well. We will be catching up with each of the three contenders to hear their views on being nominated in advance.

Kadeena Cox wins Velodrome Paralympic Gold 24-Hours after Athletics Bronze

Here, we speak to Kadeena Cox, who is the first British paralympian since 1984 to win gold medals in two sports. At the Rio Paralympics Cox scooped gold in athletics in the 400m (T38), and gold again in the 500m time trial (C4-5) in the velodrome. She is also the world para-cycling champion in this discipline, and all this has been achieved just two years after suffering a stroke and being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when Cox was twenty-three.

Words: Maria David 

Cox takes Bronze in the athletics 100m. Image: Fernando Frazao Agencia
Cox takes Bronze in the athletics 100m. Image: Fernando Frazao/Agencia Brasil.

How did you find out that you had been nominated for an award and what was your reaction?

My sister called me while I was in Cape Verde to tell me and I might have bounced around a bit!

This has been a brilliant year for you. Paralympic Gold medals in athletics and in track cycling, plus awards in the Sunday Times SWOTY and at the Sports Journalism Awards. How have you felt about this phenomenal rise to becoming a high-profile athlete?

It’s crazy, my life has changed so much. I appreciate all the support I get and it’s amazing to be recognised and get awards for what I achieved this summer. I’m not quite sure it’s sunk in yet.

How have you managed to stay grounded?

I’m one of seven children so they bring me back down to earth quite quickly. I’m always just their annoying sister.

What has been your biggest achievement off the bike this year?

Squatting 135 kg in the gym. I live a sad sad life which revolves around training!

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

Growing up my biggest inspiration was Allyson Felix the American sprinter but when you spend every day around para-athletes, pushing their bodies beyond the limits and doing what most would think is impossible, these people become my inspiration. They’ve all gone through tough times and have massive boundaries in their way but still do amazing things.

“Para-athletes have all gone through tough times and have massive boundaries in their way but still do amazing things.”

Cox with her Gold medal from the 2016 games. Image: World Wide Images

What gets you out of bed every morning, even during challenging moments?

Knowing that I may be able to inspire and make other people’s lives better and being able to show that having a disability isn’t a limitation. It just means you have to do things differently.

Travelling between Manchester and Leeds to train for two sports, and studying for a degree doesn’t leave much free time. So, what do you do to wind down when you have a spare moment? 

Yeah I spend a lot of time on the motorway! However I love baking so when I get free time, I take time to bake for the family.

“I’ve only been cycling for 18 months so there’s room for improvement and if I can improve then why not..”

What are your objectives for next year in cycling, and will you also be starting bobsleighing?

I want to take on the challenge of bobsleigh but it’s not in the Paralympics until 2022 so I may finish my degree and perfect my cycling skills first. I just want to get better on the bike so I can push for 34 seconds in 500m time trial and hopefully be able to get on the able-bodied team as well as the para squad. I’ve only been cycling for 18 months so there’s room for improvement and if I can improve then why not…

Voting takes place on Sunday 18 December – tune in to BBC One at 6.40pm. In the mean time, check out our interview with Dame Sarah Storey and with Laura Kenny following their nominations. 

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