Cody Jung got into cycling a little later than most world-class riders. He picked it up his senior year of college at Point Loma Nazarene. For a while, he was wondering why it took him longer to move up into more advanced classifications than his peers.
“When I got into cycling I didn’t know about paracycling or Paralympics. So, when I started competing I was measuring myself against able-bodies riders that I competed with,” says Jung.
Cody was born with cerebral palsy and doesn’t really have the use of the left side of his body. He played Little League baseball and pretty much anything else his able-bodied friends did.
“I’ve always had a competitive side to me but I think it hurt me in other sports that I wasn’t as good at physically. I wanted to be competitive but didn’t have the tools necessary to really compete.”
Once he discovered the world of paracycling he knew he’d found his calling.
“I think it’s easy to do something when you really love it,” says Jung. “For me, growing up with cerebral palsy, I was always looking for a sport that I could do well and do with other people. Cycling, just because of how two-dimensional it is compared to other sports, made it pretty easy for me to adapt to.”
However, the transition from riding a bike competitively to full-blown racing came with a few speed bumps. In his very first race he got caught up in a big ol’ crash.
“Definitely some fear and apprehension from that first experience and a lot of it was I was a poor college kid. That first crash my bike got so messed up and I was like, the scrapes and cuts healed but if I crashed I couldn’t even ride.”
Jung’s love of being on the bike was greater than the financial hit. With more races came greater commitment.
“Competition is kind of like the pinnacle of any physical activity and I think the more you do something, you kind of want to see how you compare against other people.”
Now other people measure themselves against Cody. With help from Challenged Athletes Foundation, Jung strengthened himself to the point his left leg is able to add power to his right leg.
After just a few years, the Poway native reached the World Championships and finished in 5th place. Now, he’s getting ready for a shot at his first Olympic Games, which means putting on a jersey with the USA on it.
“I think in a lot of ways it gives me gratitude because I wouldn’t have had these opportunities if I hadn’t been born the way I am. It reminds me of all the times growing up that I wished I didn’t have CP, or I wished I was like all the other kids, and I’m kind of glad of who I am and where I’m at. I wouldn’t be wearing this USA kit and I wouldn’t be racing my bike all over the world. So, I think that’s probably the feeling I get most when I really think about it.”
Eight years ago, Cody Jung started pedaling. Now, the kid who could only use half his body has ridden over nearly half the world … and he’s not stopping any time soon.