Par­a­lympics GB can hit an­other new high at Tokyo 2020 says Cundy

Par­a­lympics - Lo­cals play their part in Bri­tish medal bo­nanza

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Sport - By BoB French bob.french@jpress.co.uk

Jody Cundy has chal­lenged his fel­low Great Bri­tain Par­a­lympic stars to carry the mo­men­tum from their Rio hero­ics to­wards Tokyo 2020 and be­yond. Par­a­lympics GB, field­ing 264 ath­letes in 19 of the 22 sports, fin­ished sec­ond in the medal ta­ble to China, win­ning 64 gold medals and 147 in all over 11 days of com­pe­ti­tion.

There were 119 Bri­tish medal­lists, 44 of them multi-medal­lists. Five Bri­tish fe­males - cy­clist Dame Sarah Storey, swim­mer Bethany Firth, wheel­chair racer Han­nah Cock­roft and equestrian rid­ers So­phie Chris­tiansen andNatashaBaker- won­three gold medals.

Cundy won two gold medals on the cy­cling track in his sixth Games, four years on from ig­nominy in Lon­don when he ex­ploded into a fit of rage at of­fi­cials for deny­ing him a restart in his favourite one-kilo­me­tre time-trial dis­ci­pline.

That was a sem­i­nal mo­ment for Par­a­lympic sport as the watch­ing pub­lic re­alised Par­a­lympians were elite, suc­cess-hun­gry sports stars first and fore­most.

The 37-year-old from Wis­bech won his first gold medal as a swim­mer in At­lanta in 1996 and has com­peted in three Games in the pool and three on the bike, so hei side-ally placed to ap­praise Bri­tain.

And Cundy, now a sev­en­time Par­a­lympic cham­pion, be­lieves Par­a­lympic­sGB can build on the phe­nom­e­nal suc­cess of Rio 2016.

“I don’t know whether or not a medal haul like this is ever go­ing to be pos­si­ble again,” said Cundy.

“But then we didn’t think a medal haul like Bei­jing (in 2008) was go­ing to be pos­si­ble, like Lon­don (2012).

“Each time we think it’ s not pos­si­ble, we come­back and do big­ger and bet­ter things.

“It’s very hard to im­prove on what we’ve done - you look at the amount of medals we’ ve won and it’s stag­ger­ing num- b er s-it’ s just about con­tin­u­ing that mo­men­tum.

“The rest of the world will learn how to do it all. Butwhile we know how to do it and we keep stay­ing ahead of ev­ery­body, we can still stay world lead­ers.

“And yes sports will get stronger, depths of field are get­ting stronger.

“But we ob­vi­ously know what we’re do­ing at the top so we’ve just got to keep con­tin­u­ing that through.”

Bri­tain’s Par­a­lympic pro­fes­sion­al­ism was be­hind the re­sults, Cundy be­lieves, and the sys­tem al­lows the ath­letes to do their best. This time they de­liv­ered, to a man, woman and horse.

With tal­ent iden­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­grammes, more ath­letes, across more sports and clas­si­fi­ca­tions, could be found. That could en­hance Bri­tain’s medal count.

China, with a vast dis­abled pop­u­la­tion of 83 mil­lion, has com­peti­tors in most cat­e­gories, which part ex­plains the ex­tra­or­di­nary haul of 239 medals, 107 of them gold, from the Games’ 528 events.

Bri­tain’s medal haul was their third high­est in the his­tory of the Par­a­lympic Games, which for­mally be­gan in 1960 in Rome, hav­ing had ori­gins at Stoke Man­dev­ille in Buck­ing­hamshire.

Bri­tain won gold medals in 11 dif­fer­ent sports - archery, ath­let­ics, boc­cia, cy­cling, ca- noe­ing, equestrian, row­ing, swim­ming, ta­ble tennis, triathlon and wheel­chair tennis - and that equalled the record held by China from the 2008 Games in Bei­jing.

And in to­tal they won medal sin 15 sports-power lift­ing, sail­ing, wheel­chair bas­ket­ball and wheel­chair fenc­ing the ad­di­tional four - to match the record the United States set in Athens in 2004.

Cundy added: “The amount of medals we’ve won has been truly stag­ger­ing and to be part of the team I’m im­mensely proud.

“You kept turn­ing on the TV in the ath­letes vil­lage to see ath­let­ics win­ning, swim­ming win­ning, archery win­ning. They were all chip­ping in at some point.

“The per­for­mances have been out­stand­ing. Peo­ple can say about Rus­sia not be­ing there or what­ever, but there’s a lot of per­for­mances where even if Rus­sia would have been there, we’d still have had a mas­sive amount of gold medals.

“To be part of that and to do it post-Lon­don - a home Games- it just showst hat that mo­men­tum we built in Lon­don and the ed­u­ca­tion for the whole Par­a­lympic move­ment has re­ally moved for­wards.

“Hope­fully now peo­ple see Par­a­lympic sport in an even bet­ter light and now we’re back we can start build­ing to Tokyo, ed­u­cate even more peo­ple and look to even more suc­cess up to that and on­wards .”

‘The amount of medals we’ve won has been truly stag­ger­ing’

Peter­bor­ough’s Lee Man­ning (sec­ond right) cel­e­brates win­ning a bronze medal in the wheel­chair bas­ket­ball with some of his team-mates. They beat Turkey 82-76 in the bronze medal play-off match.

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