Richard Whitehead: ‘London 2012 opened eyes to Paralympics’

Great Britain's Richard Whitehead (centre) wins the Men's T42 200 metres during the Sainsburys Inter

Great Britain's Richard Whitehead (centre) wins the Men's T42 200 metres during the Sainsburys International Para Challenge at the Olympic Stadium. Picture: Adam Davy/PA Archive - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Ima

The fevered cheers of the Paralympic Games might be a distant memory to some, but public hunger for top-level disability sport is bigger than ever, according to athlete Richard Whitehead.

The T42 200m gold-medal winner will return to the scene of his Paralympic heroics at the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games tomorrow and is hoping to taste Olympic Stadium victory once more.

But the 39-year-old double amputee insists the strength of Paralympic sport is much more important than individual glory.

“London 2012 really opened people’s eyes to what Paralympic sport was all about,” he said.

“It wasn’t just disabled people giving sport a go, it was about top athletes competing at the highest level.

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“I had 80,000 people watching me which gave me a lot of confidence that people do want to see Paralympic sport and the Anniversary Games will be a great opportunity for the public to do just that.”

The former ice sledge hockey player will line up against a host of big names including American sprinter Regas Woods – the fastest man in the world this year – and compatriot and army officer David Henson MBE, British Invictus Games captain and champion.

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“Dave’s a great guy and it will be a real honour to line up alongside him on Sunday,” he added.

“The Invictus Games were fantastic because they showed the public these guys who have served their country but suffered some traumatic experiences, who showed life isn’t over and they can continue doing amazing things.”

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