GALLERY and VIDEO: Homecoming as Jody Cundy talks outbursts, medals and London 2012 with Wisbech youngsters
HUNDREDS of Wisbech schoolchildren got to hold a London 2012 bronze medal yesterday as Jody Cundy came home to pass on some Paralympic inspiration.
The cycling star, from Walpole St Andrew, was given a hero’s welcome as he toured the town’s primary schools on Viven, the vintage fire engine.
Youngsters laughed, gasped and sang as Jody talked about the medals he has won in the pool and velodrome, the difficulties he has overcome - and even the televised meltdown at this summer’s Games.
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.
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“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’ll remember today and maybe they’ll look back on it when they achieve their goals.”
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One youngster 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 just 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.
“For some reason, youngsters have this ability to ask questions that you don’t get asked by the press,” said Jody. “It certainly keeps you on your toes.
“Someone asked me to explain my outburst. I thought I’d better do it without the expletives!
“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 this morning. 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 with trips to Clarkson School, St Peter’s School and Peckover School this afternoon.
Councillor Viv MacRae, Mayor of Wisbech, 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.”