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Richard Whitehead frustrated by lack of opportunities at Tokyo 2020

UK & international sports | Published:

Whitehead finished third over 100m before hitting out at the International Paralympic Committee.

Richard Whitehead is frustrated at a lack of opportunity at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics

Richard Whitehead has expressed frustration at a lack of opportunities at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, dismissing rival athletes’ concerns that double amputee runners like him are a “danger”.

Whitehead, who won the T42 200 metres at the World Para Athletics Championships on Saturday, finished third over 100m on Monday night before hitting out at the International Paralympic Committee.

The Nottinghamshire runner, 41 on Wednesday, says double amputees like him are being denied the chance to compete over the shorter distance at the next Paralympics.

Australia’s Scott Reardon, a single leg-above-knee amputee who won the 100m, has lobbied for double above-knee amputees to compete separately due to the circular motion of their running style.

That means Whitehead, 200m champion at the last two Paralympics, will have only one race to compete in at Tokyo 2020.

“I will only have a 200 metres to run in Tokyo, which is ridiculous,” Whitehead said. “Scott Reardon is a great athlete, but as a person he’s someone that wants to provide himself with the best opportunity of success, not to compete.

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“That’s not me saying it bitterly, that’s me saying it truthfully. I’ve seen emails from Scott and the Australian authorities that have looked at the reason why we shouldn’t be involved and that is for ‘danger’ reasons, which is ridiculous.

“Because we circumduct, they say we’re going to trip the other athletes. I race in mainstream athletics day in, day out. It’s never happened. I’m more impaired than the single-leg amputees, but they’re asking me to run double the distance.”

It is understood Reardon says his concerns are shared by other single-leg amputees.

Richard Whitehead finishes third in the Men's 100m T42 final
Richard Whitehead finishes third in the Men’s 100m T42 final (Victoria Jones/PA)

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The morning heat had added weight to their argument as 15-year-old Ntando Mahlangu of South Africa fell spectacularly as he appeared to be cruising through.

Sporting event programmes are often revised between Paralympics and the IPC’s long-stated aim is to split single and double-leg amputees into different events, but there must be the depth of talent.

Whitehead is four times the 200m world champion has never won the 100m world title and missed out on a second gold of the championships.

Wheelchair racer Hannah Cockroft claimed her second gold on Monday, adding the 800m title to the 100m she won on Friday. Kare Adenegan took bronze behind her team-mate.

Olivia Breen, with victory in the T38 long jump, and Sophie Kamlish, with gold in the T44 100m, took Britain’s tally to 11 gold medals.

None of the established Britons are in action on Tuesday’s fifth day, but Ireland’s Jason Smyth is seeking his second gold, in the T13 200m.

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