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Meet Richard Whitehead

Sport
Paralympic Marathon and 200m (T42)

Achievements

  • 400m World Record at Paralympic World Cup 2011, 57:06s
  • 200m World Record Holder, Olympic Stadium 2012, 25:50s
  • Gold – 200m IPC World Championships 2011, 25:88s
  • Marathon World Record holder Chicago Marathon 2:42:52s

Back story
Richard is a congenital double amputee, before his success in running he competed at an international level and won medals in swimming, cricket and sledge hockey.

In 2004, with Canada’s Terry Fox as his inspiration, Richard entered the New York Marathon despite never having run one single mile before. Initial training took place on a treadmill on his knees using sport cups. By summer he’d only managed ten miles, which destroyed him mentally and physically, leaving him with blisters the size of a 50p. Weeks before the race he found out about a special running prosthetic that could help to make his running dream a reality, but at £2,000 per leg they were out of his reach. Then out of the blue the company behind the technology donated two flex run, running feet. With just 13 days to go before the New York Marathon he received his new running legs. With two days to go before the race he ran 18 miles, although this was the furthest he’d ever run he was left feeling nauseous and extremely distressed. He finished the race in 5 hours 18 minutes, achieving something that he never thought he could.

Since New York he has run numerous marathons including the notorious Snowdonia Marathon and two Ultra Marathons -Comrades and Two Oceans Ultra (34.5miles). In 2009, he became the first amputee to break the 3 hour barrier in a marathon and continues to push himself to break record after record.

In 2010 it was confirmed that Richard would not be able to compete in the Marathon during London 2012, due to his classification not being represented in this event. With this news Richard set about changing his focus to the track, and events specific for his classification which were included in the Paralympic programme. 2011 was a year of great successes for Richard, he opened with a Gold medal and championship record at the IPC World Championships and then went on to break the 200m and 400m world records. The shift to become a full time athlete has taken some time to adjust to but his results highlight that it was the right move for him as he prepares for London. He hopes to be able to compete in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m during the London 2012 Games.

 

Personal
From an early age Richard’s family have always supported and encouraged him to experience everything. In January 2011 Richard ceased his work with Nottingham City Council and became a fulltime athlete. He is coached by British Marathon runner Liz Yelling and Keith Antoine on the track in Loughborough.

Richard summaries everything that he does as “Cometh the hour, cometh the man” which is also tattooed on his arm.

Sport
Road cyclist.

Achievements

  • 7th in World Women’s Road Race Championship, Copenhagen, 2011.
  • Gold in Points and scratch race at the National Track Championships, Manchester 2011.
  • National Road Race Champion, 2011.
  • Silver in the Road Race, Commonwealth Games 2010.
  • Gold in Team Pursuit, Silver in the Scratch and a Bronze in the Points race, Track World Championships 2009.
  • 3 Gold medals at the Manchester leg of the World Cup Series 2008.

 

Back story
As the youngest member of the team Lizzie is up and coming, she’s friendly and oozes star quality. She’s widely regarded as the future of British cycling.

Lizzie first experienced competitive cycling at the age of 16, when a British Cycling recruitment drive was launched and the team visited her school. After flying through the first and second stages Lizzie was then given a racing bike and put on the British Cycling training programme. Since then she has gone from strength to strength in track cycling, now with seven World Cup victories to her name.

Whilst racing in the Cervélo Road Test Team in 2010 she fulfilled a lifetime goal, by winning a stage of the Tour de l’Aude followed by another four stage victories, including a hattrick of wins on the Tour de l’Ardeche where she was crowned the best young rider for the second time of the season, after also receiving the accolade at La Route de France earlier in the year. Lizzie represented England at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, narrowly missing the Gold medal in the women’s road race.

2011 was an exciting year for Lizzie full of highs but also some lows. Due to injury she was unable to compete in the Track World Championships, however by summer she was back on track and won the right to wear the white jersey for the 2011/12 season when she became British Road Champion. Due to a crash the Road World Championships were not as successful as she had hoped and she finished in 7th but quickly followed this by winning two National events on the Track. At the end of 2011 Lizzie had to make a difficult decision when she selected to compete in the road race during the Games and sit out of the Track for the 2012 season.

2012 has also seen a shift for Lizzie from the road Team Garmin Cervelo to Dutch team AA drink-Leontien.nl.

Personal
Lizzie has a very friendly, open and personable nature, with an intelligent sense of humour, great fun to be with and oozing star quality.

Lizzie’s biggest support is her family, in particular her Grandma, who is always clearly visible at competitions wearing a brightly coloured yellow t-shirt saying ‘I’m Lizzie’s Gran’. Her parents are both teachers, who introduced Lizzie to cycling during family bike rides at the weekends.  Lizzie has found it easy adapting to her life abroad, believing it was down to her disciplined upbringing where she was encouraged to be self-sufficient.

Twitter @L_ArmiTstead