sport

Cundy's regret over outburst

Jody Cundy is far from proud of his Paralympics outburst but believes it may have changed attitudes to disability sport for the better.

The Great Britain cyclist hit the headlines during London 2012 by firing a remarkable expletive-filled rant at organisers after effectively being disqualified in the C4/5 1km time trial.

Cundy also hurled a water bottle and had to be restrained by a mechanic but after the commotion died down he recovered to take bronze in the 4km pursuit.

He regrets how he handled the controversy, sparked after a starting gate failed to open properly, but in a wider context feels it actually had a positive impact.

The 33-year-old, who had been the time-trial gold medal favourite, said: "I did make a name for myself in not the best way possible, and it is not my proudest moment, but on the positive side of it it seems to have put the professionalism of Paralympic sport onto the map and shown how much effort and dedication and time goes into winning medals.

"It is not a case of turning up and collecting a medal. It is four years of hard work.

"Yes, my frustration did come out but everyone I have spoken to has been really positive and said it was purely human.

"Maybe I could have done it in a more dignified manner but it was a purely human reaction.

"It put the Paralympics on the front and back pages and everyone after that looked at the Paralympics in a different light.

"People enjoyed it for the sporting spectacle it was. It wasn't about disability but the racing - Johnnie Peacock against Oscar Pistorious, Dave Weir blasting round in the wheelchair, Ellie Simmonds in the pool, Sarah Storey on the bike.

"They were the races to see and it was all about sporting performance.

"That is the lasting legacy the Paralympics are going to take from these Games."

The Paralympics, which ended a week ago, captured the public's imagination more than had been anticipated.

Cundy continued: "We knew these Paralympics were going to be the biggest ever.

"We didn't realise how big they were going to be but everyone has taken to them.

"We now kind of get looked at in the same light as Olympians now and that is fantastic. Hopefully there will be continued interest now all the way to Rio."

Cundy's ParalympicsGB cycling team-mate Anthony Kappes was also touched by the response of the public.

Kappes, who rides in tandem with pilot Craig Maclean, endured similar frustration with false starts in his 1km time-trial but hit back to win gold in sprint.

The 39-year-old said: "You kind of got the feeling from the crowd they were watching sport, not watching disabled people playing sport.

"That is what we want to put across as well. We are in it for the sport, not the disability.

"Anything that comes to help the understanding of disability is a very good fringe benefit.

"Ostensibly we are there to promote disability sport so if the public perception of that is greater than it was, that is a bonus."