Black Lives Matter: Sports Monitoring Advisory Panel member Kadeena Cox wants to improve diversity in cycling

Kadeena Cox is “very passionate” about improving diversity in cycling, a sport she described as “mainly white middle class”.

Double Paralympic champion Cox was this week named on the Sports Monitoring Advisory Panel, which was launched by Sporting Equals to hold to account publicly-funded sporting organisations over their Black Lives Matter-inspired pledges.

Cox, who won two golds and a bronze medal at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio, says she wants to “create change” in cycling and improve representation within the sport.

“I’m working on a project myself to get more diversity in cycling,” Cox told Sky Sports News.

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“It is mainly [a] white, middle-class sport, it’s also very expensive – my first bike cost me over £1,000 so I had to fundraise for that – not everyone can do that.

“It’s important for me to get more black people into cycling, I’m very passionate about it. There are people out there who would be great but they don’t have the opportunity.

“Essentially I don’t fit in, but I think me being in there I can help create the change so it’s easier for those coming through.”

The 29-year-old says she wants to help undo “years of discrimination” and see representation not just in terms of athletes, but in boardrooms and leadership roles as well.

“A lot of people think there is because you see football for instance, or track and field. For me, I do athletics which is diverse but also track cycling and I’m the only black person to win an Olympic or Paralympic medal,” Cox continued.

“It’s not very diverse at all and that’s in management as well; it’s majority white, middle-class males, so it’s change not just within athletes but in coaching too.

“There are years of discrimination that makes you feel like you’re not qualified, we need to change people feeling like they aren’t good enough for these opportunities.”

Millions took to the street following the death of George Floyd to campaign against the inequality and injustice black people continue to suffer, with sports organisations around the world – including the Premier League and the NBA – releasing statements acknowledging a previous lack of action by many to improve the experience of black communities in the sport and physical activity sector.

Cox says the Sports Monitoring Advisory Panel, which includes former QPR coach Chris Ramsey, former England rugby player Maggie Alphonsi and former England cricketer Devon Malcolm, will ensure organisations honour their assurances to do better in the future.

“There are people who will say the right things but not necessarily put the work in,” she said. “These movements are really important at the time, like straight after the death of George Floyd, but the group is there to keep the pressure on to make sure change is made.”

Equal representation of communities is not the only area of concern for sport; research carried out by Nottingham Trent University revealed that 80 per cent of female athletes believe the growth of women’s sport during the pandemic has been hindered by inequalities compared with men’s sport.

Cox says she has been fortunate to not have had her training greatly impacted by the pandemic, but added: “I know for a lot of other female athletes they’ve been hit hard. In general there’s less money in it so there’s less pressure to get female sport sorted.

A post shared by Kadeena Cox (@kad21)

“It’s a shame that women’s sport is affected more, it shouldn’t be. We are all elite athletes, there shouldn’t be any discrepancy.”

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