Photo gallery: Paralympian Jody Cundy cheered by children at Fenland schools
16:49 05 October 2012
Fire engine tour for athlete from Walpole St Andrew, between Wisbech and King’s Lynn
Hundreds of schoolchildren got the chance to hold a London 2012 bronze medal today as Paralympian Jody Cundy came home.
The cycling star, from Walpole St Andrew, was given a hero’s welcome as he toured Wisbech’s primary schools on a vintage fire engine.
The athlete talked about the medals he has won, the difficulties he has overcome - and even the televised meltdown at this summer’s games when he swore after being disqualified.
The 33-year-old, one of the most successful Paralympians of all time, said he hoped he could inspire future Fenland stars with his visit.
“When you’re at school and people come in you do remember who they are,” he said.
“I came from round here and I aspired to do bigger and better things. I remember some of the talks we had at school when I was a kid and I remember going away and thinking ‘I wish I could do that’.
“It’s good to bring in a medal and let children see that these things are achievable. Maybe they will remember today and maybe they’ll look back on it when they achieve their goals.”
One pupil from Ramnoth Junior School, nine-year-old Alex Gallagher, told Jody: “When I saw you in the Paralympics, I just wanted to go out into the garden and ride my bike.”
Jody said: “The whole idea of inspiring a generation has really come through.”
“I’ve had so many messages from people who have dusted off their old gym kit and cyclists who have shrugged off their stabilisers.
“These are messages from old and young. It’s not just one generation that the Olympics and Paralympics have inspired.”
Jody had to settle for a bronze in the 4km pursuit at London 2012. He was denied the opportunity to defend his 1km time trial (kilo) title when officials ruled he had made a faulty start - a decision which sent him into an expletive-ridden rant in front of the cameras.
It was an outburst that even Wisbech’s primary school children did not let him forget.
“Someone asked me to explain my outburst. I thought I’d better do it without the expletives,” he said.
“In every school there has been a gem of a question. My favourite was probably ‘Do you ride a horse?’”
Jody started his tour by visiting Elm Road Primary School where he was treated to choruses of London’s Burning and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star at Nene School before being greeted with loud cheers in the playground at Ramnoth Junior School.
His tour continues today with trips to Clarkson School, St Peter’s School and Peckover School.
Mayor of Wisbech, Viv MacRae, said: “I think visits like Jody’s can really inspire children.
“They have been really enthusiastic and they can see that you can overcome difficulties to achieve your goal.”