#39) Kadeena Cox


“I’m a survivor; I’m not gonna give up; I’m not gonna stop; I’m gonna work harder. I’m a survivor; I’m gonna make it; I will survive; keep on surviving.”

There can be no doubting how empowering this chart-topping hit from Destiny’s Child is.

It’s Queen B and her bandmates at their very best, showing women that no matter what obstacles are thrown their way, they all have the power to come through it and achieve anything they want to.

Furthermore, it is also the perfect description for the life and career of the indestructible Kadeena Cox.

The Rio 2016 star proved once again this week what an incredible athlete she is by winning the 500m time trial at the 2019 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships at her first event in a velodrome since that Games.

This in itself – added to the fact that she also beat the legendary Dame Sarah Storey to the title – is enough to garner the respect of any sporting fan out there.

But if you look back, firstly into why she was absent so long and then to how she became an elite athlete in the first place, you’ll see just why the nation fell in love with her two-and-a-half-years ago.

That’s because Cox is a born survivor.

Having been literally on top of the world in mid-2017, claiming two golds at the World Para-athletics World Championships in London, Cox’s career as an elite athlete was thrown into serious doubt just months later thanks to a serious knee problem.

So bad was the injury that Cox was forced to miss the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, denying her the chance to win a seventh major title in less than three years.

Even now, despite being fit enough to not only compete but succeed at the highest level, she still has to manage the issue and admitted when speaking to the BBC that ‘it hurts and I am going to have to grin and bear it.’

Pain is something that Cox is more than used to overcoming though, having been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in September 2014 after suffering with a stroke shortly before.

As an up-and-coming sprinter at the time who was also vying for a place on the British skeleton team, such a diagnosis could have ended her sporting career there and then.

Instead she decided to make the most of her situation and just over a year later was a double world para-athletics champion, taking gold in the T37 100m and T35-38 4x100m events in Doha in October 2015.

Ten months later she then became the first Paralympian to win gold medals in two different sports at the same Games since Isabel Barr in 1984, storming to the T38 400m title on the athletics track before smashing the C4-5 time trial world record on the bike.

It’s not all been easy for the Sale Harriers athlete though. In an open and honest interview with Jacob Steinberg for The Guardian in March 2017, she described the unbearable spasms she suffers with that sometimes mean Cox can barely move.

The fact therefore that she is able to win major international titles despite her diagnosis is in itself remarkable.

What has endeared us to Cox most of all though is the attitude she continues to show even in the most difficult of circumstances.

Having multiple sclerosis isn’t a limitation for Cox. Instead, it’s opened up new paths for her to excel in, enjoy and make the most of life.

No better was this proved than after claiming her second cycling world championship this week where, in spite the circumstances leading up to the race, Cox admitted that, while obviously delighted to win, she also felt a tinge of disappointment at not beating the world record.

She also stated her intentions to win four gold medals at Tokyo 2020 – two in each discipline – and has also previously stated that she wants to represent Team GB at the Olympics and Paralympics in Japan next year.

Whether or not that happens, especially because of the knee, it remains to be seen but there’s no reason to say it can’t. If she’s fast enough, Cox should be considered.

And if there’s anyone who is not going to stop, going to work harder and going to make it then it will be Cox.

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