PARALYMPICS: Cundy desperate to make up for his London disappointment

Jody Cundy lets off steam after being disqualified at the London Paralympics.
Jody Cundy lets off steam after being disqualified at the London Paralympics.
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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 he had dominated 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 Paralympic sport. It feels like I took one for the team and the whole 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 came out of what 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. Officials rejected his pleas that the 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 has kept fire in my belly. 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 won Paralympic golds in the past and hopefully will win some more in the future, but there was only that one opportunity to do it on home soil. That’s the reason it’s so sad and disappointing.”

Cundy knows he will be expected to produce on September 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.”

Cundy won three Paralympic 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 athletes that have become Paralympic champion in two different sports.

In 2009, he was made an MBE for his services to disability sport.

Cundy competes in the 1km Time Trial on September 9 and the mixed Team Sprint on September 11.