Kadeena Cox: Relapse could harm Tokyo 2020 Paralympic titles defence

Kadeena Cox
Kadeena Cox is competing in the T38 100m, 200m, 400m and 4x100m relay at July's World Para-athletics Championships
World Para-athletics Championships - 14-23 July
Venue: London Stadium
Coverage: BBC Radio 5 live and the BBC Sport website

British Paralympic champion Kadeena Cox says she is focused on defending titles in two sports at Tokyo 2020 despite not knowing whether her medical condition will curtail her ambition.

Cox was one of the standout performers at Rio 2016, winning gold in both the athletics and cycling competitions.

The 26-year-old has multiple sclerosis, which affects the nervous system.

"I can have a relapse at any point that can throw me out," she said. "I hope it's a long time until it gets worse."

Cox, who is competing at July's World Para-athletics Championships, added: "I have severe relapses that put me in hospital. I'm unlucky in that sense. But I have a disease modifying treatment that manages it.

"I used to not plan ahead because of the condition I've got. But I've put that at the back of mind and not let MS control my life."

She said: "The aim is to be able to replicate in Tokyo what I achieved in Rio or even perform better."

'I had to do The Jump'

Cox has had "up and down" periods in the year since winning Paralympic gold medals in the athletics T38 400m and cycling's C4-5 time trial, as well as two other medals in Rio's athletics events.

First, there was the issue over her appearance in Channel Four winter sports game show The Jump, which had resulted in a serious injury for former British gymnast Beth Tweddle in a previous series.

Cox had her funding taken away by British Athletics during her time on the show but has since had it reinstated.

"They put me back on it when I returned to training and showed form," she added. "I've got no complaints. They were supportive.

"No sport wants me to get involved in something dangerous. They wanted me to focus on London 2017 - but I needed a break from sport."

And last month, the Manchester Metropolitan University student had her Paralympic medals stolen from her car. However, after an appeal on social media, they were returned.

The Leeds-born athlete can now focus on the forthcoming championships and the build-up to Tokyo 2020, where once again she plans to compete in both athletics and cycling. She has, however, taken a year's break from cycling partly due to her "academic workload" and a work placement.

Cox is one of a handful of British athletes to compete in more than one sport at the Paralympics and Olympics.

Five-time Olympic cycling gold medallist Sir Bradley Wiggins is hoping to join that select bunch having announced he hopes to make the Great Britain rowing team for Tokyo 2020.

"He's a legend," said Cox of the 37-year-old. "As an athlete you have it in-built - he has to be a sponge and take in all the new information.

"Eventually you build up to being the good athlete that you are. He's a legend and will do well."

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