Jody Cundy insists the sound of the Izu silence will suit ParalympicsGB’s cyclists just fine as he gears up for a Games like no other at Tokyo 2020.
Evergreen Cundy, 42, will compete at his seventh consecutive Paralympics this week bidding to add to his bulging haul of ten medals scooped since 1996.
He starred as a swimmer in Atlanta, Sydney and Athens before a decision to switch to cycling in 2006 saw the glory continue to flow.
Cundy powered to kilo gold in 2008 and 2016 but infamously hit the headlines at London 2012 for his heated televised outburst at being disqualified in front of a raucous home crowd.
A Covid-ravaged, behind-closed-doors Games is a world away from that storied summer but Cundy, who will take to the Izu Velodrome on Thursday, says Britain’s para-cyclists have the tools to adapt.
Cundy, who was raised in Norfolk by parents Alan and Ann, says: “In terms of spectators, we’re fortunate in Paralympic sport in that a lot of our events don’t have massive crowds.
“It’s only the Paralympic Games every four years when we have the sell-out crowds. If it’s an empty velodrome then that’s not too dissimilar to some of the venues we’ve had in the past.
“It would be nice to have an atmosphere and it always brings the best out of athletes, but we’re probably going to be a lot more used to it than our Olympic counterparts were.
“It’s certainly going to be a strange one – certainly not with my mum and dad. They’ve pretty much been to every competition I’ve ever been to, so to know that they’re going to be sat at home watching it on Channel 4 is a bit crazy.
“That one thing that brings it home – when you look up to the crowd and it’s a familiar face up there with a little GB flag with my name on it. It’s something I’ve seen every time since I’ve been away so it’s going to be strange not having them there.
“But I know their support is going to be just as strong.”
Cundy’s place in the ParalympicsGB pantheon is already secure but he’s showing no signs of stopping just yet.
The 17-time track cycling world champion claimed kilo and mixed team sprint gold on the Brazilian boards in 2016 – his sixth and seventh Paralympic gold medals to step two feet deeper into the gallery of Games greats.
Cundy knows he faces a stern task to defend his pair of titles at the Izu Velodrome, with Spaniard Alfonso Cabello – who capitalised on his controversial disqualification in London to win gold – the main threat.
And ParalympicsGB’s mixed team sprint outfit also travel to Tokyo having lost their World Championship title, with the Chinese trio beating Cundy, Jon-Allan Butterworth and Louis Rolfe in Canada last year.
Cundy, a 22-time World Championship medallist, will follow up his kilo exploits in the team event on Saturday and adds: “It’s a little bit different this year as we don’t go in as defending team champions. I’m looking for two golds but it’s going to be a tough competition.
“It’s pretty surreal and when I started I never thought I’d be here for a seventh Games. It helped changing sports – but four Games now in a second sport is something I never envisaged at the start.
“It’s pretty special but that honour of pulling on the GB jersey always feels just the same.”
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