Jody Cundy Predicts British Show Of Strength At Track Worlds

16 Mar 2016 10:00

Jody Cundy is optimistic Great Britain will put on a show of strength at this week's Para-cycling Track World Championships in Italy.

A 21-rider squad will compete in Montichiari looking to lay down a marker ahead of September's Paralympic Games.

"The team is looking pretty epic," Cundy said ahead of the World Championships, which take place from Thursday until Sunday.

The 37-year-old from Wisbech, Cambridgeshire is aiming for an eighth individual world title - 10 years after switching from swimming to claim his first - before targeting a third Paralympic gold medal on the bike.

Four years ago his bid for victory at London 2012 ended in tears and a tantrum which was a seminal moment for Paralympic sport.

Cundy erupted in fury and hurled invective at race officials after being denied a restart in his favoured one-kilometres time-trial event.

His title defence ended in controversy surrounding a start gate which Cundy felt did not open correctly, but the public perception of Paralympic athletes changed thereafter.

"The whole Paralympic movement benefited from my outburst," said Cundy, a lower leg amputee.

"Before we weren't taken as seriously. Post-that, it turned into people looking at the sporting performances.

"I took one for the team in one way, but the outlook on Paralympic sport afterwards was a positive thing."

Cundy's outburst was in no small part because the opportunity of a lifetime - to win a Paralympic title in front of a partisan home crowd of 6,000 people - had gone awry. The missed chance has kept him going in the intervening period.

"I was speaking of retiring after London and then London happened," Cundy added.

"As soon as I came off that track centre after the last race in London, that was the next four years mapped out.

"The motivation to put the wrongs to right in that kilo event are high. It's going to be a fabulous kilo (in Rio). If I can pull it off on the day it will definitely right the wrongs."

An elbow injury has meant Cundy has been unable to ride in his favourite event - four laps of the track as fast as possible - since winning his seventh world title in the discipline last year in Apeldoorn.

The problem has prevented him from using the start gate - the cause of all his problems in London. He is confident of success, though, and is also eagerly anticipating the mixed team sprint, which he is slated to ride with Kadeena Cox and Jon-Allan Butterworth.

Cundy added: "It's the first kilo I've done in 12 months. That's going to be an interesting prospect. Everything at the moment is saying it's going to be a pretty good kilo. Fingers crossed it will all come together."

Cox makes her Para-cycling Track World Championships debut in Montichiari. The 25-year-old from Leeds is already an athletics world champion and is aiming to win gold medals in both sports in Rio.

Dame Sarah Storey, the 11-time Paralympic champion, is also in action and, like Cundy, undefeated in her signature event since her World Championships debut in 2006. She is targeting an eighth world title in the 3km individual pursuit.

Britain also have strong chances in the tandem disciplines, while former world champion Butterworth is back after a year off the programme.