Jody Cundy: We just hope that the world hasn"t already switched off

Cundy: We just hope that the world hasn't already switched off

Jody Cundy has one big worry about
his bid this year to add to the five gold medals that make him one of
Britain's most successful Paralympians.

, Cundy fears the world will have switched off.

And he says it is time Paralympians demanded the coverage they deserve.

Past glory: Cundy celebrates swimming gold at Sydney in 2000

Past glory: Cundy celebrates swimming
gold at Sydney in 2000

'Paralympians are forgotten about, but we've become complacent and accepted it,' said 33-year-old Cundy.

'In all the years I've been involved, the coverage has faded away after the Olympics finishes.

'At Atlanta in 1996 there was 30 minutes of Paralympics highlights on the BBC every night, but it was just the gold medallists. If you won silver or bronze you might have got five seconds of “also competing today, so-and-so won a bronze medal”. If you finished outside of the top three, that was it, you might as well not have been there.'

Cundy won his first Paralympic gold as a swimmer in Atlanta in 1996 before he switched to cycling in 2005.

Racing at more than 40mph, speeds more easily associated with a vehicle powered by an engine than a man with one leg, Cundy is the fastest Paralympic cyclist in the world.

Winning gold at a home Games, or as he puts it to 'have a moment like Michael Johnson in Atlanta or Cathy Freeman in Sydney', would be 'incomparable'.

But it is the memory of his schooldays in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, that has made Cundy determined to raise his profile and promote Paralympic sport.

'I didn't even know what the Paralympics was when I was a boy,' said Cundy.

Medal hope: Jody Cundy with his Bronze for the 100m Butterfly in 2004

Medal hope: Jody Cundy with his Bronze for the 100m Butterfly in 2004

'There might be some young lad or girl out there like I was at school who is missing a foot or an arm. They want to be the next Usain Bolt and aim for that Olympic goal, and they'll just stop and fade away because they'll think, “I can never be as good as somebody with four limbs”.

'There's a responsibility to show the world what you can do. I want people to know who I am before the Games so they can share in my victory.'

Cundy was born with a deformed right foot which was amputated when he was three years old.

He was a prodigious talent in the pool, winning 23 international titles in a decade-long swimming career before switching to cycling after trying the sport at an open day at Newport Velodrome.

'I was spotted by a coach who couldn't believe I hadn't ridden competitively before,' he said. 'I just loved it immediately.

'I get the same buzz from the competition in swimming and cycling. But cycling is far more exciting as a sport. The banking is 45 degrees and you're travelling at unbelievable speeds. It's a white-knuckle ride. When you're in the stands you can feel the wind generated by the riders as they shoot past you.'

Cycling is the jewel in the crown of British Paralympics. More than half of the medals available in Beijing in 2008 were won by British competitors.

Cundy attributes this success to the set-up at the National Cycling Centre in Manchester, where he trains six days a week, often in the company of able-bodied stars such as Hoy and Sean Kenny.

'There aren't many places in the world where you can rub shoulders with competitors of that stature,' said Cundy.

'We bounce ideas off each other. I have challenges which the able bodied guys don't have, so they're learning from us as well.'

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