Whitehead: My motivation comes from inspiration in para-athletics

Whitehead added another European title to his collection in Berlin. Pic: Ben Booth Photography

Motivation still burns brightly for Richard Whitehead after adding another World Para Athletics European Championship title to his ever-growing collection.

But while the taste of victory remains a sweet one it is inspiration of a different sort that the 42-year-old is harnessing from Berlin.

The Lowdham runner was simply a cut above in the Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark, stopping the T61 200m clock in 24.22 seconds – a full three seconds clear of the field.

Age is therefore no barrier for a runner who is eyeing up another Paralympic Games at Tokyo 2020, with his next task focusing on helping others do the same over the coming years.

“It wasn’t about winning the race, medals aren’t something that inspires me to continue,” he said.

“The impact sport has had one someone like [silver medallist] Ali Lacin is definitely inspiring. The whole ethos around the team is what everyone talks about in Berlin.

“In Britain, we have the ability to bring young talent through and nurture that talent from an early age. We have also invested in coaching and the structures that are behind the performances.

“When you see a performance on the track, so much hard work has gone into it.”

Whitehead will be 44 by the time Tokyo 2020 comes around, an investment he has made to himself and his family, sacrificing for wife Valerie and their two young sons.

But while talks of what happens after that are yet to materialise, with the Nottinghamshire athlete set to take stock of how para sport is shaping up – an act in showing to his selfless career to date.

For now however there is more to be done in Berlin – despite his on-track competition ending after just the second day.

“Berlin has definitely put on a show for Paralympic sport,” added Whitehead, who runs with prosthetic legs, owing to a double through-knee congenital amputation.

“When you look at the impact since 2012, it is about making sure it is not just about the Paralympic Games, but it filters down to European level and the domestic side.

“We want to engage and encourage communities all over the world and hopefully we empower the next group of athletes.

“It’s the same platform that I had in 2012, people have really given me the opportunity and I want to inspire the next generation – it’s a cliché but I want to help give them the toolkit for success.”

British Athletics works alongside UK Sport and the National Lottery to support the delivery of success at the world’s most significant sporting events, principally the Olympic and Paralympic Games. They do this via the funded initiative, the World Class Programme, one part of the British Athletics pathway.