Whitehead looking to inspire
Richard Whitehead wants to inspire a generation
Richard Whitehead is after more than a Paralympic gold medal at London 2012.
The double above-the-knee amputee is out to prove just how far boundaries can be pushed, even if he has a rather shorter distance to do than he wanted.
The 36-year-old was denied the chance to race in the marathon on the streets of London and will instead compete in the T42 100 and 200 metres, the only distances in that class.
He is incredibly the world record holder for the 200m and the marathon, running 24.93 seconds for the sprint and two hours 42 minutes 54secs for the 26.2 miles distance, an achievement surely as impressive as any among the athletes at the Games.
For Whitehead, to just go after another record and a gold medal would be "missing the whole ticket about the Games".
"London 2012 for me is about leaving that legacy, inspiring a generation and hopefully inspiring people to take part in sport, or just be more positive about themselves," he said. "And the Paralympics will give me a platform to do that. Hopefully I embrace that."
The Nottingham athlete is also determined to prove to the International Paralympic Committee he should be allowed to race the marathon in Rio in four years' time. The IPC regulations denied him the chance to compete alongside arm amputees in the T46 marathon in the capital, with his attempt to challenge the rule at the Court of Arbitration for Sport last year failing.
Whitehead, who runs with prosthetic blades, said: "For me the marathon event is always something I'm going to be passionate about.
"I'll obviously get back into that and hopefully there will be a possibility for me to take part in that event at the same level as I am doing the 200m. Unfortunately the powers that be are not giving me that chance. Hopefully this gives me a platform to identify those people and try and persuade them."
"The reason why I want to compete in the marathon is not just for myself, but the power it gives. It's a free event for anybody, you don't need a ticket to watch the marathon. And to see a British athlete running the marathon in London would have been amazing. But hopefully, if not myself, then somebody else will be able to run it in Rio."
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