US-born runner Shana Cox has said that living in the capital makes her feel like a Londoner and ignore accusations that she is a 'plastic Brit'.
Cox, 27, was born in America but is a key member of Team GB’s 4x400 metres relay team, who are competing in the Olympic stadium tonight with the aim of winning a spot in tomorrow’s final.
She credits her grandmother in Forest Hill with keeping her grounded during the run-up to the Olympics, when she was accused of transferring her allegiance to Britain because she wasn’t good enough to make the American team.
“I know what some people have said but I know the truth and my family knows the truth and that’s all that matters,” said Cox, whose parents are British.
“I may not have grown up in Britain but I’ve been coming here ever since I was little and my parents have always instilled that bit of my heritage in me.
“What I’ve loved over the last year is living with my grandmother and really getting to know her. She’s an amazing lady with lots of stories and she’s really made me feel like a Londoner.”
Cox is one of a number of overseas athletes, including former US hurdler Tiffany Ofili and Anguillan long jumper Shara Proctor, who won a place with Great Britain, prompting the “plastic Brit” jibes.
But she said she has been warmly welcomed by the rest of the team.
“I’m so proud to be wearing the British kit. The other guys in the team have made me feel like one of the family.”
Cox was born and raised in Long Island, New York, where she was a star of the American high school and college track circuit.
Last year the International Association of Athletics Federations approved her application to compete for Team GB, given her parents’ nationality.
She failed to make it to the finals of the 400 metres individual event this week but is determined to make up for it in tonight’s relay.
She was part of the British team which won gold in the 4x400 metres relay at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Istanbul in March, and she is aiming to repeat that victory against tough competition from the US and Jamaica.
“I’m feeling really good, really fit and ready for action,” she said. “You train and train and train to get to this point — now I just want to repay everyone who’s had faith in me by running really well.”