It would be rude to walk away now – record-breaker Jody Cundy targets Paris 2024

The 42-year-old this summer became the first man to win medals at seven separate Paralympics.

Sunny Badwal
Friday 10 September 2021 00:01
Jody Cundy has his sights set on Paris 2024 (Tim Goode/PA)
Jody Cundy has his sights set on Paris 2024 (Tim Goode/PA)

Paralympian Jody Cundy admits he would love to compete at Paris 2024 after picking up two medals in Tokyo at the age of 42 and the record-breaking Briton is confident he will still be able to perform at the highest level in three years’ time.

Cundy this summer became the first British man to win medals at seven separate Paralympics, having had success as a swimmer in Atlanta, Sydney and Athens before switching to the bike for Beijing London Rio and most recently Tokyo.

In Japan, Cundy broke the Paralympic record in the C4-5 1,000 metres time trial but Spain’s Alfonso Cabello Llamas went one better to set a new world record of one minute 1.557 seconds to land gold over the Briton.

Cundy, who now boasts 12 Paralympic medals – including eight golds, told the PA news agency: “I would love to be in 2024 and this year I have proved that I am still getting faster.

“I still have the passion to compete and race at the top level and also to be one of the best in the world at my sport, it would be rude for me to walk away from it now but I’m in a position where I’m not getting any younger.

“I’ll take it year by year and see what happens but everyone keeps telling me it’s only three years till the next Paralympics so three years I think I might be able to do that.”

Cundy was born with a deformed right foot that was amputated when he was three years old. He made his international debut at the swimming World Championships in Malta 1994 but transferred those skills to cycling at the 2008 Games in Beijing.

Jody Cundy lost out on gold to Alfonso Cabello Llamas who broke the world record (Tim Goode/PA)

Asked if he was disappointed not to defend his time trial title in Tokyo, he said: “I’ve never won a silver before so I was unsure on what it would feel like, whether it would feel like losing.

“We did everything we worked on in training and to pull it off and I thought I done enough but to then watch Alfonso smash the world record and get to the point where he won the world record like I can’t be disappointed in that.”

While Cundy’s Paralympic exploits stretch back 25 years, his British team-mate Phoebe Paterson Pine was competing in her first Games this summer.

She ended up winning gold in the archery, but admits she did not even expect to get a spot in the GB team, never mind coming home as champion.

Phoebe Paterson Pine won gold in Tokyo in her first Paralympic Games (Tim Goode/PA)

The 23-year-old, who defeated team-mate and friend Jess Stretton by one point on her way to claiming the title, said: “I didn’t even expect to get a spot, I worked so hard to do it but having the mental health problems that I do, I didn’t expect to do it and wasn’t particularly supportive of myself.

“It’s always hard coming up against a team-mate. Jess is such an amazing archer and is such a lovely person as well so we were so equally matched it could’ve gone either way.”

Stretton, 21, was the defending champion and Paterson Pine, having been unable to console her friend after their encounter, admits she was determined to go on and emulate her team-mate’s Rio triumph.

After beating the world number one in the second round, Paterson Pine, who has spina bifida, saw off France’s Julie Chupin and Italian Maria Andrea Virgilio before defeating Chile’s Mariana Zuniga Varela in the final.

Paterson Pine said: “It was a horrible feeling to get back after, I had to go on to another match and seeing how upset she (Stretton) was I wanted to go and support her and not being able to was so difficult, but I had to park my emotions to the side and get on with the task in hand and almost think ‘If I’m going to go on and do this I’m going to do it, I’m not going to go out in the next round I’m going to try my hardest to go all the way and do the best I can’.”

Cundy and Paterson Pine, along with team-mates Stef Reid, Ali Jawad and Tom Hamer, were attending the unveiling of Virgin Media’s gold painted broadband cabinet in Stoke Mandeville, the birthplace of the Paralympics, to celebrate the achievements of all Paralympians in Tokyo.

Cabinets have been painted gold in six major UK cities, including Loughborough, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast and London.

Cundy said: “To have that recognition is good, I was on the roundabout this morning and we had our medals out in our tracksuits and cars were beeping us as they go by so there’s some recognition out there and people are spotting us and hopefully that will grow.”

::Virgin Media’s #WeAreHere campaign encouraged the nation to cheer on the ParalympicsGB team virtually as no fans, friends or family could travel to Japan to watch the Games in person this year and celebrate the team’s achievements.

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