PARALYMPICS LONDON 2012: World champion Whitehead powers to 200m gold and a new world record
RICHARD Whitehead smashed his own world record to win Paralympic 200m gold to add to his world title.
DELIGHTED: Great Britain's Richard Whitehead celebrates his 200m victory at the London 2012 Olympics - achieved in a new world record time
Whitehead, a double amputee above the knee, was trailing coming off the bend but surged through the field down the home straight, winning by a clear margin in 24.38 seconds - half a second quicker than his previous best.
Victory promoted some Usain Bolt style celebrations and the 36-year old dedicated the win to a friend who recently passed away.
“That wasn’t for me, that wasn’t for Richard Whitehead, it was for everyone who has supported me,” he said.
“I was fighting back tears towards the end and I had to take a couple of minutes to pull myself together; that was a performance for everyone.
“There are so many people wanting you to win, so it’s a big weight to carry on your shoulders. But I’ve got broad shoulders so I can bear the weight.
“The race didn’t really go as expected; we were obviously pulled back then I got off to a terrible start – I slipped – but I know my start isn’t quick and I run with what inspires me. I did that for my friend Simon Mellows who died recently.”
Elsewhere, throwers Gemma Prescott, Rob Womack and Claire Williams all won bronze – their first Paralympic Games medals.
Prescott was first up in in the women’s club and drew inspiration from watching Whitehead sprint to victory.
“It was an amazing experience. I knew I had to go out there and PB to win a medal and I’m delighted. I’m actually really struggling for words,” said Prescott, who threw 20.50 metres to finish third.
“I’ve never been in an event like that before with such support. I also managed to see Richard’s (Whitehead) race so that was inspiring mid-way through the competition.”
Womack produced a personal best to win bronze in the F54/55/56 shot, to follow the lead of roommate Aled Davies, who won the same medal in yesterday's F42/44 shot.
“Last night my room mate Aled Davies had his shot put bronze and I had it round my neck. I thought ‘I want this medal’," he said.
“My first throw was poor and I could hear my coach shout ‘stretch, stretch’ and I just had to remember everything I’d done back in the preparation camp in Portugal.
“I wanted to get the crowd on my side and maybe I was giving it a bit too much early on and I felt I didn’t have much left in the later rounds because of all the excitement, but Shaun told me to take some time and calm down.”
Williams, competing at her third Games, finished third in the F11/12 discus, courtesy of a fourth round throw of 39.63m.
“I threw as well as I could and it’s the best I’ve thrown for a while, I’m ecstatic," he said.
“I’ve had so many ups and downs since I started, but this has made it all worthwhile – it’s made up for the last 12 years and it makes me want to go to Rio; this medal, this is what it’s for.
“I couldn’t be happier. My little girl gave me a GB flag and she was beaming, that said it all.
“I was worried that I’d be frightened by the crowd, but it was just amazing.”