VIDEO: Fury as controversial start denies heartbroken Jody Cundy the chance to defend Paralympic title
BOOS echoed around the London 2012 velodrome this afternoon as a heartbroken Jody Cundy was denied the chance to defend his Paralympic title.
The Walpole St Andrew star’s bike slipped as he was leaving the starting gate - forcing him to pull up and request a re-start in the 1km Time Trial (kilo).
But the commissaires claimed nothing had changed with the starting equipment and, despite protests from ParalympicsGB coach Chris Furber, Cundy was refused another attempt.
The decision provoked anger in the velodrome. Fans booed the announcement, while a distraught Cundy had to be held back by his coach as he voiced his frustration.
Cameras caught the distressed 33-year-old questioning whether he had “wasted four years of his life”.
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As he was ushered from the velodrome, he shouted that the commissaires had “ruined his life”.
Cundy said: “I fell out of the gate because it didn’t open. I’ve wasted four years of my life to ride in front of 6,000 people.
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“Do you know what it’s like to dedicate four years of your life. I can’t even express it. I’ll never ever get this opportunity again, never, ever. What am I supposed to do now?”
The controversial decision robbed world record holder Cundy of the chance to win his sixth Paralympic gold medal in an event he was favourite to win.
With Cundy marked as “Did Not Finish”, Spaniard Alfonso Cabello took the kilo crown, with Cundy’s ParalympicsGB team-mate Jon-Allan Butterworth in second.
Giles Long, presenter of the Games on Channel Four, said on Twitter: “What a total swizz. Jody Cundy was robbed big time.
“I am currently swearing very very loudly in my room and using the kind of words that C4 advise against using on Twitter. Poor Jody. Gutted.”
Just an hour after suffering the biggest disappointment of his career, Cundy returned to the velodrome to apologise for his outburst in front of 6,000 fans.
He said: “I would just like to apologise. I had an issue with the gate and my wheel slipped.
“I was hoping for a restart but it didn’t go my way unfortunately, and I didn’t get to ride and show you exactly what those four years of hard work in training have been about.
“I would like to apologise for my language, I think even over the noise you might have been able to hear it.”
His girlfriend, Christina Kelkel, tweeted: “Thank you everyone for the support, it means the world! Have to go another 4 years now! Apologies but being professional is hard here.”
Last week, Cundy told The Cambs Times/Wisbech Standard: “This is the Games that will put Paralympic sport on the map. Instead of being something that just comes around every four years, people will recognise names.
“I remember Olympic names like Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson - people who did amazing things. I want to make sure people remember my name and they remember Paralympic sport.”
Cundy, who won three Paralympic golds as a swimmer before taking up cycling, is an 11-time world champion and one of the most successful Paralympic sportsmen of all time.
He will race in the 4km Pursuit tomorrow, but he will not feature in Sunday’s Team Sprint as rule changes resulted in him being left out of ParalympicGB’s three-man team.