One of Great Britain’s most successful Paralympics athletes, cyclist Jody Cundy, was controversially disqualified in the men’s 1km time trial after the officials ruled his starting problem was due to ‘rider error’ rather than equipment failure.
The defending C4 Paralympics champion, and fastest man in the field, was incandescent with rage after being told by Team GB trainers that they had failed to persuade the officials, known as commissaries, that his wheels had spun at the start as a result of a mishap caused by the starting blocks, and not him.
Cundy, 33, is a Paralympics veteran and a gold medal winner in both swimming and cycling, was escorted away from the trackside after angrily remonstrating with Team GB officials.
Fighting back tears just minutes after being told he could not defend his title, Cundy said: “I fell out of the gate because the f****** gate didn't open.
"Do you know what it’s like to work so hard for four years for a 1 minute 3 second race in front of 6,000 people and then not be allowed to ride the race. I’m never going to have the opportunity to race in front of that home crowd again.”
His girlfriend, a press photographer, was also crying trackside.
The race officials told Team GB that the starting block was fine, TV evidence was not permissible and that they had no recourse for appeal.
In the most dramatic race so far in the veledrome Spain’s Alfonso Cabello broke Great Britain’s Jon-Allan Butterworth’s 1km C5 world record – just minutes before Cundy’s disqualification.
Butterworth, a former RAF weapons technician who lost his left arm from shrapnel in a rocket attack in Iraq five years ago, took to the track straight after Cabello in the combined C4-C5 class race, but was beaten into second place.
After an uncharacteristically slow start by Butterworth, the 26-year-old reigning C5 world champion made a remarkable come back, but with such close margins it just wasn’t enough to match the Spaniard.