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dunn and whitehead confident of lyon success

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Richard Whitehead

20 July 2013

Paralympic Head Coach Paula Dunn and T42 200m defending world champion Richard Whitehead (coach: Keith Antoine) believe that GB & NI has the strength to post a strong medal tally at the IPC World Athletics Championships, which gets underway in Lyon today. 

With a number of debutants in the squad, Whitehead feels some of the new faces can benefit from the experience of some of the senior athletes like himself, who have starred on the big stage. 

“I think the team is as well prepared as it can be for the competition. There is a wealth of experience and youth in Lyon and the expectations are set high for the team. However, I feel with the support team around us, it’s going to enable the team to achieve their goals,” said Whitehead, who captains the GB & NI team this week.  

“At the World Championships in New Zealand two years ago there were 12 gold medals and the majority of those athletes like myself and Dan Greaves and Beth Woodward in the team will be there to give the newer athletes the knowledge of what to expect in that environment. I think having that experience is useful in that pressure cooker environment of elite competition.”

Dunn, who will embark on her first major competition as Head Coach since replacing Peter Eriksson in November, has every faith that the team can repeat the feats of last summer’s Paralympic Games and finish strongly in the medal table.

“I’m hoping everyone goes out and performs how their capable of doing. If we do that, then I think we can come home with a number of medals that we would be happy with. Eight gold medals and 25 overall in Lyon would represent a successful campaign for us. We know it’s going to be difficult, but I’m confident in the team that we’ve selected, the target is achievable.

“The team has gelled really well and I’m really pleased with Richard’s input as team captain. The senior athletes have done a great job looking after the new members of the team and the camp is really positive. I’m expecting the Paralympic gold medallists to perform here and it would be good if some of the younger athletes get inspired and do exceptionally well on the day as well. We are building to 2016, and this is the first step in a long journey.”

Whitehead meanwhile will head into the championships as not only the world but Paralympic champion, but is not fazed by the task that faces him as he bids to add another gold medal to his collection.

“I don’t really feel that pressure to deliver. Last year was my goal to go to a home Games and provide that kind of performance. I’m supported by UK Sport to be an elite athlete, and I’m going to provide that performance that the support deserves.

“The world record is 24.38 (set by Whitehead at London 2012) and I’m in really good shape at the moment. I just need to work through the heat and get into the final and obviously deliver as close to the world record as I can,” added Whitehead, who turned 37 yesterday.  

Follow the IPC World Athletics Championships live on More 4 between 1415-1920 BST. Also follow updates on twitter  @BritAthletics