Outburst by Norfolk Paralympic cyclist shows ‘passion’ for his sport
Norfolk paralympic cyclist Jody Cundy's now-infamous tantrum following his false start on the track has been described by organisers as an outburst of "passion" for the sport.
The 33-year-old, from Walpole St Andrew, near King's Lynn, was hoping to join fellow swimmer-turned-cyclist Sarah Storey and Mark Colbourne as Paralympic champions at London 2012.
But on Friday he was controversially ruled not to have finished the men's C4/C5 one-kilometre time-trial after he faltered on the start line.
Cundy, a lower leg amputee and C4 rider, initially said the wobble was down to faulty equipment, but officials dismissed his complaint - ruling he could not restart.
He later returned to the centre of the velodrome to issue an apology to the fans.
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Former Paralympian and current Locog director of Paralympic integration Chris Holmes said: "I've known Jody since we competed together at his first Games in Atlanta in 1996.
"He's an incredibly committed athlete, he's a tremendous performer, to be able to succeed at gold medal level in swimming and then change to the track and be an incredibly successful Paralympian, I think what you saw there was passion that he has for the sport, the thousands of hours of training that he will have done and to come out a matter of moments afterwards and apologise directly and unreservedly to the crowd I think is a mark of a man."
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Cundy was cheered by the crowd throughout, as they jeered the decision and repeatedly chanted "let him ride".
Mr Holmes and Patrick Jarvis, also a former Paralympian but now IPC Governing Board member, were asked whether, if Cundy was a Premier League footballer, would he be afforded a similarly sympathetic response.
Mr Jarvis said: "I think that's when we will say we have truly arrived, when it's no longer that you get that instant deference, or sympathy because you're a Paralympian, there will be standards and expectations on all of us."
Cundy - unbeaten in the event since 2006 and world record holder in one minute 05.144 seconds, a time good enough for Paralympic gold - attempted to confront the International Cycling Union officials, but was led away before being heard ranting about his misfortune.
"I just wanted to go 'Why?' said Cundy, who won three Paralympic titles as a swimmer before claiming two more on the bike in 2008.
"I'm sure I'd probably have done something I regretted. I trained for four years of my life, since winning in Beijing, to come here and do it in front of a home crowd."
The event was won by Alfonso Cabello, with world champion Jon-Allan Butterworth, who lost his left arm while serving in Iraq with the RAF in 2007, taking silver.
Following yesterday's tears, tantrums and apologies, Cundy - competing in his fifth Games - was back in the Velodrome again this morning for the C4 4km individual pursuit.
Apologising for his actions yesterday, Cundy said: "I'm just disappointed I didn't get to show the world the shape I'm in."