16 October 2009
Double amputee marathon runner Richard Whitehead has spent 2009 breaking barriers and setting records, all the while backed by Olympic athlete and coach Liz Yelling.
Yelling, who has taken the 2009 season out to have a baby with husband Martin, believes Whitehead is raising awareness for disability athletics. She said: “Richard's season has been phenomenal, changing the perception of what double-legged amputees can achieve. This is a tribute to his hard work, and commitment to the training, whilst working full time.”
The Southwell athlete, who runs on prosthetic blades much like South African 'blade runner' Oscar Pistorius, began 2009 improvements with a 2.56 marathon outing in Rome, where he was the first ever leg amputee to break the 3 hour barrier, and most recently saw him set a new world record time for a leg amputee at the 2009 Chicago Marathon earlier this month on the 11 October, with a time of 2:50.
Inspired by the support from the American crowds and gifted by the quick course, Whitehead had felt confident going into the race and was thrilled with the outcome.
But his determination not to be complaisant was evident: “Running a new world record time is evidence that my training is going well. The time I have achieved in Chicago is one step closer to realising this dream. Once I return to the UK I will sit down with my coach, Liz Yelling and plan the next stage of my training and running development.”
Yelling, who finished twenty sixth for the marathon at the Beijing Olympics, believes there is more to come from the talented endurance runner: “In 2010 Richard is looking to break 75mins for the half marathon, and run faster over the marathon distance, with the ultimate goal of running 2.35."