Athletics - Paralympic champion eyes Rio double

Paralympic champion Richard Whitehead admits securing an unprecedented marathon-sprint double at Rio 2016 could top the experience of winning gold at his home Games in London.


The 36-year-old was one of seven British track and field athletes to win gold at the London 2012 Paralympics, storming to the 200m title in a new world record of 24.38seconds.

But, with the joy of doing so, came a tinge of disappointment for Whitehead that he was not allowed the chance to compete in a marathon of any sort in the capital.

With no marathon for leg amputees, Whitehead had aimed to compete over 26.2miles against arm amputees however the International Paralympic Committee ruled otherwise.

He lost an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and switched to sprinting but, with a renewed vigour to run the marathon as well, Whitehead believes Rio 2016 has the potential to be the pinnacle.

"I want to compete in the marathon in Rio 2016 and the defence of the 200m crown is something I am also desperate to achieve so the combination of the two could be pretty amazing," said Whitehead.

"I don't really know at this stage how it's going to work but with such an amazing team around me and the help of UK Athletics I hope it can be done.

"Everyone who knows me knows how much passion I have for the events I compete in, no-one has ever tried that combination so obviously it will be difficult but I'm looking forward to the challenge.

"The 200m has given me this platform to do what I want to, 2012 was always a platform for future success but of course it was a wrench to not do the marathon.

"I had 18 months of 200m training and did enough to be world No.1 and world record holder going into the race so I expected to win but I put on a lot of muscle bulk for the race and now I just don't know.

"People around me are trying to mould me into a more rounded athlete so I can do both."

One thing is for sure, Whitehead will be running a marathon again, in fact he plans to complete several as part of his bid to run from John O'Groats to Land's End next summer.

However it is his latest and shorter event that will take priority before then, Whitehead bidding a first defence of his 200m world title in France in July.

"I have had six weeks off after the Games to enjoy the success of what I did and it has been a slow transition back into training," said Whitehead, speaking at the Aviva School Sport Matters Awards.

"I'm now looking at future challenges; I really want to get back into marathon running and going from John O'Groats to Land's End will allow me to do that but that won't be until after the world champs."

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