Paralympic cyclist Jody Cundy has spoken about the highs and lows of a year in which his passionate but x-rated outburst at being disqualified in the 1 kilometre event at London 2012 made him a household name.
Jody, who will this year feature in a new advertising campaign for sponsor Chartwell Insurance, was a strong favourite for the event in which he is the current world record holder and took the Para-Cycling World Track Championships gold medal in Los Angeles in February.
And, after riding personal bests in almost every session at the pre Paralympic training camp, Jody’s hopes were high for a home gold medal.
“It was time to race, with the kilo up first I was ready to go, and with all my competitors going before me I was feeling really confident as I stepped on the track, especially as the fastest time was still half a second slower than my Beijing (Paralympics 2008) winning time and still some 9/10ths of a second slower than my world record, and I was going faster than ever now,” he said.
“I just needed to race at my best and that was it, unfortunately it all started to go wrong in a big way! I made my start just as I have countless times in training, however something was wrong, the gate held me, the next thing I know I’m wheel spinning and going sideways. Not ideal. So I stuck my hand up, called for a mishap, pulled off the track and got ready to take to the start again. However that was it, I was unfairly denied a second start, and that was it, a big fat DNF next to my name.
“What followed wasn’t my proudest moment, but it will go down in Paralympic history in the same way as John McEnroe’s outburst at Wimbledon in 1981. I basically threw all the toys out of my pram at anybody who would listen, in denial that I wouldn’t be defending my kilo title, and was removed from the velodrome. Knowing I was out of order I wanted to apologise, and try to put things right, at least to all the kids that had witnessed my foul-mouthed tirade. So a little later I came back out to apologise to everyone in the crowd, then to the sponsors and governing bodies and organisers in a press conference and media scrum. Then finally I headed back to the village as I had to compose myself and come back and race the 4km pursuit the following day.
“Having watched the footage back, it looks like I started the tiniest of fraction too early hence the gate held me when I pulled forward. Unfortunately though, the false start wasn’t called by the commissaires, so I didn’t get the immediate restart the rules state.
“The next day, with the crowd behind me, I ripped around the velodrome in qualifying to a new British Record, and 3rd best time overall. In the bronze medal race I made short work of my opponent and took bronze with an overtake in just over five laps. I covered the first 1km quicker than the winning time from the previous day. Considering the disappointment the day before, and the fact I hadn’t focused on the pursuit, as I placed all my eggs in the kilo basket, a bronze medal really did feel like winning gold.
“London will always be memorable for me for some amazing highs and some equally amazing lows, but I’m glad I can say I was there and I won a medal in front of the best and noisiest crowd anyone can ask for. What a year for sport, and amazing to have played a small part in it!”
Back in February, Jody’s season had kicked off at the Para-Cycling World Track Championships in Los Angeles.
“They turned out to be an interesting championship – in the Team Sprint riding with Darren Kenny and Sarah Storey we suffered our first defeat since 2006, taking silver behind the Chinese, who had found an amazing man who really did make the difference to their team,” said Jody.
“In the 4km Pursuit, qualifying was interesting, as there was an official standing on the track in the back straight! Cue a restart, and I managed to post the 3rd quickest time. In the Bronze medal final I tried to learn from my pacing issues in qualifying. However after the 1st kilometre I could see my opponent and decided to chase him down rather than doing a full 4km. After 5 3/4 laps I’d caught and overtaken Roberto Alcaide from Spain to take the Bronze medal.
“In the kilo I managed to maintain my unbeaten record to take the 1km title in 1:06.001. Not my best ride, actually the first time I’ve won at the worlds without breaking the world record, but still it was good enough to take my 5th consecutive world title and the coveted rainbow bands. So LA turned out to be a mixed bag of results, but I did get a full set of medals!”
“My racing year finished with a few more races on the track, a bronze medal in the Team Sprint at nationals, a 2nd place in the flying lap at the Revolution track series, and in my final race of 2012, a win in the 10mile scratch race in the final round of the MRTL Premier Division track league.
“2013 will be a really important year for training, as I plan my revenge in Rio. On the way to 2016 I have also set myself the ambitious target of riding for England at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014. So the hard work starts again, and my motivation is sky high. Thanks to all my family, friends and supporters and all my sponsors!”