Kadeena Cox is a Paralympian who, from an early age, has been making tremendous strides as a sprinter, entering Para Athletics in 2015 after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. In her very first international competition, Kadeena won T37 100m gold at the IPC Athletics World Championships.
Kadeena Cox is also a GB cyclist, beginning her cycling in 2015 and winning the first British title of her career in the C1-5,500 metre time-trial at the British Cycling National Track Championships – her first major success.
In 2016 Kadeena competed in the UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships, winning the 500 metre time-trial in a new world record time of 37.456.
This victory meant that Kadeena completed the exceptional achievement of becoming a world champion in two different sports! Wow, what an achievement!!!
At the Rio Paralympic Games in 2016, Kadeena won an incredible three medals in athletics with gold in the T38 400m, silver in the 4x100m and bronze in the 100m. Kadeena made history again by claiming a gold medal in the Cycling C4-5 Time Trial, becoming the first British Paralympian for 32 years to win medals in two different sports.
Kadeena followed her amazing Paralympic success in Rio with three medals, including 400m gold, 100m silver and 200m bronze at the World Championships in London in 2017.
For those keen bakers and watchers of the Great British Bake Off, Kadeena Cox may have been a familiar face as she strapped on an apron and entered the Big White Tent in aid of Stand Up 2 Cancer in 2018.
Reflecting on her experience in athletics as a black woman and the overt racism she has come across Kadeena said: “The majority of people scrape their less dense hair back into a bobble or a braid, whereas I actually have massive challenges getting my hair into a helmet. Going into Rio, trying to get my ’fro into a helmet was a big issue. You get little comments – people say things like: ‘why don’t you chop it off?’ or ‘Can’t you just have it straight?’ But this is just the hair that grows out of my head. It’s frustrating that something so basic becomes such a big issue but it’s because there are so few people of Afro-Caribbean descent in cycling”.
Kadeena re-emphasises the point about the lack of representation in British Athletics and British Cycling, saying the cycling world is “dominated by white, middle-class people”, which may contribute to an environment that is not receptive and open-eared to the experiences and backgrounds of minority-ethnic sports stars.
Reflecting on the influence of the powerful Black Lives Matter movement, Kadeena says the most important thing is what change happens after the protests die down: “What happens at home? Are you going to be educating your family? Are you going to be looking into the things you can do to support black people? Are you going to support black-run businesses? What comes next? The foundation that is currently in Britain and across the world is against us because we still have to endure systemic racism. That foundation needs to be eradicated and education needs to play a massive part. We need to bring everyone together. There should be no hierarchy. We are equal”.
Aratrust couldn’t agree more, Kadeena! Let’s unite and root out racism, overt and systemic! Equality now!
Aratrust is dismayed at the lack of minority-ethnic athletes at the elite level of sport and athletics! An article on The Telegraph website, using data from the Summus Sports Group, has revealed the lack of Black, Asian and Minority-Ethnic representation within Great Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic squads with the shocking statistic that over half of the British teams at the 2016 Rio Games fielded only white athletes.
The report from the Summus Sports Group highlighted that a staggering 16 out of 23 Olympic squads and 8 out of 19 Paralympic squads had no minority-ethnic representation at the Rio Games in 2016.
The most shocking statistics from the report include:
- Cycling had just 5 minority-ethnic riders across their elite programmes including for Paralympic and Olympic athletes
- Only 20 out of 264 para-athletes were of minority-ethnic heritage
- Only 2 out of 97 athletes in Olympic and Paralympic cycling and swimming teams were of minority-ethnic heritage
- 566 out of 366 GB athletes in Rio were of minority-ethnic heritage
- 31% of Team GB’s Rio Medallists came from private schools compared to just 7% of the population attending these schools
Aratrust welcomes the commitment from the British Paralympic Association and their statement on Black Lives Matter where they pledged to ensure there are equal and fair opportunities for all athletes with disabilities so a far higher number of Black, Asian and minority-ethnic participants can take part in grassroots sport, competitive sport and elite sport, giving them the opportunity to represent their country as athletes, coaches, and leaders in Paralympics GB.
The British Paralympic Association has specified their long-term commitment in their Diversity Action Plan with measures that include:
- As an organisation, we fall short in terms of BAME representation and we need to change that. We will engage with our wider team and with our board to deepen our understanding of the actions we need to take to put this right, proposing that at least one member of the Board be BAME by the 2021 AGM – after the 2021 elections and appointment processes.
- To work with member bodies of the Association in encouraging the election or appointment of disabled board members to those bodies.
- To arrange an all staff Equality and Diversity training sessions that includes: context/ legislation and encourages consideration of impact of the individual’s role and service delivery.
- To work with member bodies of the Association and influence (and “inspire” as set out in the Strategy) diversity in the participation of sport, specifically amongst the disabled population.
- To measure and then aim to improve the diversity of the wider support team for the Paralympic Games.
Aratrust says: “We admire people like Kadeena Cox who are prepared to speak out against racism and inspire others to do so! Together we can root out racism, both overt and systemic! Equality now!