Paralympic gold for Jody Cundy - rider was wary of London 2012 repeat before victory in Rio
Jody Cundy was wary of a repeat of the London 2012 start which sparked his meltdown before ending four years of torment with Paralympic gold in Rio.
The 37-year-old from Wisbech won the C4/C5 one-kilometres time-trial in one minute 04.492 seconds to claim his sixth Games gold, 20 years after his first and four years after the expletive-laden rant which changed perceptions of Paralympians.
Cundy, defending the title he won in Beijing and in the event in which he had been unbeaten since 2006, felt he would be granted a restart at London 2012, but officials ruled against him.
After hurling invective and water bottles in the direction of the officials, Cundy refocused on Rio - and he delivered on Friday night.
“Up until about three days ago I hadn’t really thought about it,” Cundy said.
“Then I had people in the village, in the food hall, even in the track centre, saying ‘I can’t wait to watch you race’, ‘I can’t wait to watch you do what you said you were going to do four years ago’.
“All of a sudden I started feeling the pressure. It’s one of the most nervous I’ve ever been on the start line. So once I got out the start clean, I just tried to build on that.
“But I was so nervous about getting out the start clean, I didn’t get a very good start at all.
“It wasn’t my perfect race, but it was the race that took me to my Paralympic gold.
“I was quicker than all my competitors. You didn’t even need to use the factoring to win, so I’m properly pleased about that.”
The mixed category event was factored in favour of Cundy, who was born with a deformed right foot which was amputated at the age of three.
Jon-Allan Butterworth, who claimed three silvers at London 2012, finished fourth.
Butterworth, who lost his left arm serving with the RAF in Iraq and is a C5 rider, was the fourth to last rider to go and clocked 1min 04.733secs.
But his Paralympic record was immediately overtaken by Alfonso Cabello of Spain, the defending champion, who clocked 1:04.494.
Slovakia’s Jozef Metelka, who lives in Oxford, finished in 1:06.269 and with the factor in his favour, that saw him take the lead with just Cundy to come.
Cundy got a clean start and completed the four laps quicker than anyone else. His time was factored to 1:02.473, giving him a margin of victory of 1.72 seconds.
It was a delayed celebration from Cundy as he checked the scoreboard to ensure his bid for redemption was over.
“I was just panicking and looking at all the different times, because it flicks between the factored time and all the other times,” he said.
“I just wanted to make sure the time I did was quicker than everybody else and then I knew I was pretty good, so that was cool.”
Cundy’s prosthetic leg which attaches to his pedal was given a paint job prior to Rio to feature a treasure map from London to Rio.
It also featured his Paralympic achievements in three Games as a swimmer and two prior Games as a cyclist. Beside Rio 2016 was a question mark.
“I haven’t got a sticker to go over it,” said Cundy, who hopes to add another medal in the team sprint on Sunday’s final day of action in the velodrome.
“I’ll get the guys to paint it over when we go home. Hopefully we’ll have two after the team sprint.”