Athletics - Whitehead looking to retain title in style

Paralympic gold medallist Richard Whitehead believes more eyes will be on next month's IPC Athletics World Championships than ever before and he is planning on producing a record-breaking performance the increased attention warrants.

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Athletics - Whitehead looking to retain title in style
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Richard Whitehead of Britain poses at the medal ceremony after winning the Men's 200m T42 classification final at the Olympic Stadium during the London 2012 Paralympic Games (Reuters)

Since claiming T42 gold at the London 2012 last summer Whitehead has targeted long-distance success to go with his sprint titles and is currently training to run the length of mainland Britain across approximately 40 days – starting in August.

But it is Lyon in France that the 36-year-old is focused on just now after being selected in Great Britain’s 48-strong squad for the World Championships that gets underway on July 19.

Whitehead enters as the defending 200m champion, having stormed to gold in New Zealand two years ago, and the world record holder after his blistering 24.38 seconds winning time from London 2012.

And the Southwell Club ace insists despite his mammoth long-distance challenge, he is not about to be left behind next month.

"At these World Champs I think you will have more interest in it than last time in New Zealand because of what happened at London 2012,” said Whitehead, speaking at the launch of Lloyds TSB National School Sport Week at Southfield Academy.

"And I think that will bring out more athletes and better performances. World Champs in recent years haven’t been as competitive as a Paralympics but this time around it will be as competitive and you will get more world records at the worlds this summer.

"And although I have been mixing between the 200m and marathon running in my training recently I am used to that and I am want to get in on it all at the World Champs.

"I would like to hold on to my 200m title and I am obviously heading there as the world record holder and the world and Paralympic champion and I want to reinforce that.

"I have been racing regionally instead of internationally recently and my times are very consistent which is really pleasing. At this stage you don’t want to be erratic with times so I am racing quite consistently in what have been tough conditions.

"So hopefully I can go out there and we get some good conditions and I can put in a good time and I can head back for the Anniversary Games and built on that in my first return to the London 2012 track."

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