You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Kadeena Cox reveals how she coped with eating disorder flare-up to win Paralympic cycling gold

The i 8/27/2021 Sportsbeat

BY CHARLIE BENNETT IN IZU — It seems nothing can stop Kadeena Cox from creating history. 

Amid an injury-ravaged year and an eating disorder flare-up, the 30-year-old somehow found the resolve and courage to not only defend her C4-5 500m time trial gold, but smash the world record in the process. 

She is now halfway to repeating her Rio double, when she won gold medals in the velodrome and on the athletics track – the first British Paralympian to succeed in two sports since 1984. 

It had appeared her bid here was in jeopardy when Canada’s Kate O’Brien, the previous world record holder, clocked 35.439 seconds just before Cox was due on track.

a man holding a sign posing for the camera: Read More - Featured Image © Provided by The i Read More - Featured Image

But within half-a-lap, those fears were eased. Cox, who admitted she has been plagued by a return of an eating disorder in the build-up to the Games, has come too far and through far too much to settle for second.   

She crossed the line in 34.812 seconds, and her C5 disability meant that was adjusted to 34.433, a whole second quicker than O’Brien. It was dominance on a scale befitting the sight of Mount Fuji in the distance.   

As role models go, Cox is surely one of Britain’s most important.   

She was refreshingly open about her struggles with food two years ago, and admits it has again flared up on the eve of the Games.  

While as Britain’s first black cyclist to win either an Olympic or Paralympic medal, she is creating footsteps for others to walk in. No wonder BBC bosses gave her a call, with her pre-recorded episode airing on Wednesday.  

“I totally expect there to be a young boy or girl seeing me and going on to be better than me and that’s what I want to see,” she said.  

“This year has been tough and I have tried to not focus on it but I have been injured since my last session at the end of last year.     

“At Christmas I got injured and I have had injury after injury, which has been hard because it impacts both sports and it is hard mentally.    

“It has made my eating disorder creep back up, which has been quite difficult but I have a great support network who have helped get me through and make this moment even more special.   

“I did have breakfast. I have a great team, my psychiatrist Alan has helped me loads and we spoke a few days ago and came up with a plan, which I was able to execute.”  

If a series of knee injuries and returning illness wasn’t enough to contend with, temperatures soared to 35 degrees in Japan – the worse-case scenario for an athlete with multiple sclerosis.   

On the podium, Cox was clearly struggling to move as well as she normally would and her speech was slightly slurred – the effects of the intense heat 74 per cent humidity clearly apparent, even inside a velodrome.   

“I have MS and I’m heat intolerant so it is tricky, it is affecting my spasms and affected my speech which is annoying because I like talking,” she said.   

“It is a struggle and it will take me a little bit longer to recover, which hopefully isn’t too long because we have a race in 24 hours.”   

Indeed, she does, leg two of a Tokyo treble alongside Jody Cundy and Jaco van Gass – who added a bronze in the C1-3 1000m time trial to Thursday’s individual pursuit gold – in the mixed team sprint before turning to the T38 400m on the athletics track. 

She added: “I tried not to cry on the podium. I tried to enjoy this – it didn’t hit me until I got to the podium, it was a bit overwhelming.  

“I got lots of messages from my family, my Grandad who hasn’t been well sent a message just saying ‘go get the gold’.”  

Sainsbury’s is a proud supporter of ParalympicsGB and a champion of inclusive sport for all. Sainsbury’s commitment to helping customers to eat better has been at the heart of what we do since 1869. For more information on Sainsbury’s visit and


More From The i

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon