World Para-Athletics Championships: Kadeena Cox says Dubai heat will be challenge

By Katie FalkinghamBBC Sport in Dubai
6 November 2019: 'I've got ways to deal with the demon in my head,' says Kadeena Cox
World Para-Athletics Championships
Venue: Dubai Club for People of Determination, Dubai Dates: 7-15 November

Paralympic gold medallist Kadeena Cox says the heat will be "a challenge" at the upcoming World Para-Athletics Championships in Dubai.

Daily temperatures in the city are expected to significantly exceed 30C, with high humidity levels.

Cox, 28, has multiple sclerosis, and people with MS can find their symptoms worsen when exposed to heat.

"It's very, very hot," the three-time world champion told BBC Sport. "Unfortunately, I'm heat intolerant."

She added: "I tend not to go in heat, I avoid the bath, I have lukewarm showers - and now I am throwing myself into the heat of Dubai and trying to run.

"But it's a challenge and we've got a lot of strategies to try and keep me cool."

In a statement to BBC Sport, governing body World Para Athletics said it, along with the local organising committee, would be "constantly monitoring temperature and humidity" during the championships.

"World Para Athletics has a heat countermeasure policy that has been successfully applied to previous events such as the Doha 2015 World Championships and the Berlin 2018 European Championships," the statement continued.

"The same protocol will guide the operations in Dubai and also at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

"World Para Athletics and the local organising committee will be constantly monitoring temperature and humidity during the World Championships. The average temperatures in the region were one of the factors taken into account when planning the competition schedule.

"Dubai has hosted Para-athletics events for more than a decade and many teams and athletes are familiar with the conditions they will find during the World Championships."

Cox 'nervous but excited' about athletics return

Cox, a Paralympic gold medallist in both athletics and track cycling, will compete in the T38 200m and 400m in Dubai in what will be her first major athletics meet since the 2017 World Championships.

There she won three medals, including 400m gold, but has since struggled with a serious knee injury and with her mental health, including an ongoing battle with an eating disorder.

She says she is "nervous" about her return to athletics but is "excited" to be back on the track.

"I think it's because I've not really competed much in the last two years," she said.

"I've been out with injury, health struggles and I've really struggled with my mental health, so to be able to get back and be on the start line has been a challenge.

"I'm excited just to be there, but obviously I expect a lot of myself and I'm pretty sure other people expect me to come out and be able to still dominate.

"I feel that people think it's a really easy walk in the park - I just turn up and I'm always on top form. But the journey to that point is always a struggle.

"I hope I'm going to be in that place come the next couple of weeks but it's a tricky one - we can't always just rock up and be in amazing shape. I think I'm there or thereabouts, but we'll see."

World Para Athletics Championships 2019

Hannah Cockroft and Kare Adenegan
GB's Hannah Cockroft and Kare Adenegan will go head-to-head for gold in the T34 100m and 800m in Dubai

When? 7-15 November

Where? Dubai Club for People of Determination, Dubai

Who is in the Great Britain team?

About 1,400 athletes from 122 countries will compete at the championships, which are taking place in the United Arab Emirates for the first time.

Great Britain are sending a 41-strong squad to Dubai, including Cox and fellow Paralympic champions Hannah Cockroft, Kare Adenegan, Sophie Hahn, Aled Davies and Richard Whitehead.

The team contains nine defending world champions from London 2017 - including Olivia Breen, Sophie Kamlish and Sammi Kinghorn - but Jonnie Peacock and Stef Reid are not among them after they withdrew from the squad with injury.

Libby Clegg, who won T11 100m and 200m gold at Rio 2016, will compete just seven months after giving birth to her son, Edward, by emergency caesarean.

Four athletes will make their senior debuts in Dubai - Owen Miller, Hannah Taunton, Anna Nicholson and Lydia Church - while Ola Abidogun earns his first British vest since 2014.

How will GB do?

UK Sport has set Great Britain a target of 24-28 medals.

GB already have one of those ticked off after Derek Rae took silver in the T45/46 race at the London Marathon - which doubled as the World Championship race - in April.

At London 2017, GB won 39 medals, including 18 golds.

Derek Rae on the London Marathon podium with Australia's Michael Roeger and Morocco's El Harti, joined by the Duke of Sussex
Derek Rae (left) won world silver in the T45/46 marathon in London in April

China topped the medal table two years ago, with the USA also prominent, while Russia will return in Dubai having missed the last World Championships and the Rio Paralympics after being banned following details of state-sponsored doping in the McLaren Report.

In March, the IPC lifted the 29-month suspension, so Russians can participate in certain competitions up until 31 December 2022 - including the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics and Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics - if they have met the specified testing requirements.

What does it mean for Tokyo 2020?

As the final major global meet before Tokyo 2020, the championships are a key competition.

The top four athletes in each individual medal event in Dubai will secure a qualification slot for their nation.

However, if an athlete earns a top-four finish in multiple events, they can only obtain one qualification slot for their nation.

More than 600 qualification slots will be allocated during the championships.

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