Cundy desperate to make up for his London disappointment
Rio Paralympics - Jody still going strong ahead of his sixth Games
His expletive-laden rant at London 2012 was a seminal moment for Paralympic sport - and it will weigh on Jody Cundy’s mind when he takes to the start line in Rio. The 37 year-old’s emotional outburst after being denied a restart in the one-kilometre cycling time-trial hehaddominated before - and has done since - London 2012 allowed the viewing public to see Paralympians in a different light.
“Occasionally I think about it and it makes me angry again,” said Cundy from Wisbech.
“But I think it was actually a really good thing for Paralympicsport. It feels like I took onefortheteamandthewhole movement.
“Prior to that, people saw that we turned up, we raced and sometimes we got a medal.
“For some reason my outburst and disappointment highlighted we’re not just robots that turn up and race.
“I like to think that is the positive that cameoutofwhat was otherwise a very dark day for me really.”
Cundy, who is a lower leg amputee, is a former swimmer who won gold on the bike at the 2008 Games in Beijing.
He was favourite for gold in London, but was ruled not to have finished his race due to a troublesome start. Offi- cials rejectedhispleasthatthe start gate did not open.
As soon as his London disappointment happened, he turned his attention to four more years and Rio. But the frustration lingers.
“It always is on my mind now on the start line,” he added. “But I’m more aware, it’s something I focus on now, so there might be a split second where I’m not up to speed out of the gate but as soon as it opens I’m on automatic pilot and away we go.
“It haskeptfireinmybelly. I had good momentum at that point.
“I won ( world titles) in 2006, 2007, the Paralympics in 2008, and continued winning. I was unbeaten in that event up until that point.
“I don’t class it as being beaten because I didn’t get to race my race.
“But I haven’t been beaten since either, I won the World Championships in 2014, 2015 and 2016, so it’s just a dot on my clean record. That frustrates me a bit.
“The disappointment of London will always be there because it’s the only time I could ever win a home nation Paralympic gold medal.
“I’ve wonParalympicgolds in the past and hopefully will win some more in the future, buttherewasonlythatoneopportunitytodoitonhomesoil. That’sthereasonit’ssosadand disappointing.”
Cundyknowshewillbeexpectedto produceonSeptember 9 after his meltdown four years earlier.
“There’s less pressure in Rio than London, but I sort of feel there is more pressure on me,” Cundy added.
“After what happened in London I said I was going to win in Rio and now people want to see if I go and do it.”
CundywonthreeParalympic golds as a swimmer (one in Atlanta and two in Sydney) and two in Beijing as a cyclist. He is one of only a handful of athletesthathavebecomeParalympic champion in two different sports.
In 2009, he was made an MBE for his services to disability sport.
Cundy competes in the 1kmTimeTrialonSeptember 9 and the mixed Team Sprint on September 11. Footballer Ryan Kay will makehisParalympicdebut in Rio, butheisnostranger to international competition.
The 23 year-old goalkeeper from Stanground helped the England sevena-side team secure their highest ever World Championship finish of fifth in 2015.
Before flying off to Rio he said: “It’s a huge honour to be selected for the Paralympics and I’d like to thank everyone for all of their support in the buildup. It means the world to me and the team.”
Kay started playing football when he was six years-old with Park Farm, which at the time was his dad’s club.
He stayed at Park Farm until he was 14 when the team disbanded. He then went for a trial at the East Midlands Cerebral Palsy Centre of Excellence in Nottingham and later down the line was picked for the England Development team. After one match he was promoted to the senior team.
Kay is sponsored by local estate agents Sharman Quinney.
All teamsinParalympic seven-a-side football are made up of cerebral palsy sufferers. There are eight of them and Team GB have been grouped with two of the favourites - Brazil and Ukraine. Their opening game is against Brazil on September 8.
Jody Cundy lets off steam after his disqualification at the London Paralympics.