Taekwondo practitioner Caden Cunningham has been named the June Athletes’ Athlete of the Month for winning gold on his European Games debut shortly after returning from a major injury.
Cunningham, 20, contributed to a successful day for Team GB in Kraków by winning the men’s +87kg event – his first outing on the biggest European stage.
The scale of the occasion didn’t daunt him – and neither did a significant recent injury. Cunningham tore his anterior-cruciate ligament (ACL) at the 2022 World Championships and spent six months returning to full fitness. He began competing again at the 2023 World Champs and then won the Rome Grand Prix, setting him up for a confident display in Poland.
In an award facilitated by the British Elite Athletes Association, Cunningham was recognised for his success by his peers on the World Class Programme, who vote for the monthly Athlete of the Month winner.
While unwinding in Greece post-Games, he said: “A big thank you to anyone who voted and anyone who recognised what I’ve been working towards. It’s a good feeling to get that acknowledgement and have people notice it. It was an amazing message to get, that I’ve won it – being out in Greece it was a nice way to finish off this busy month or two.
“I look forward to working hard again, maybe winning it again, but the main goal is Paris next year, so everything is towards qualifying this year and winning gold next year.”
Cunningham topped a nominee list comprised of Ben Cutmore and Matthew Dixon jointly (diving), Zharnel Hughes (athletics) and Laura Roper (hockey).
The Athletes’ Athlete of the Month award is given to elite British sportspeople for their achievements in competition or elsewhere, such as personal development, inspiring comebacks, charity work, awareness raising and more.
It celebrates successes across elite British sport, and commends more than just competitive accomplishment – with every winner decided by the athlete community.
Thank you to every athlete who voted, and congratulations to Caden for winning, as well as to Ben, Matthew, Zharnel and Laura for their nominations.
Elite British athletes, to cast your vote next time, keep an eye on your emails from the BEAA!
Read more from Caden as he discusses his competitive mentality here.
Image: JFowles Photography