With the start of the Paralympics this week in London, I’d like to spotlight Richard Whitehead who is a congenital double above the knee amputee. He started running eight years ago when he entered the NYC Marathon with Achilles International. Since then he has completed 24 marathons and two ultra marathons. He holds the world record for athletes with a double amputation, in both the full and half marathon distances. At the 2010 Chicago Marathon, he broke his own world record for athletes with lower-limb amputations with a time of 2:42:52.
Richard will be competing for Great Britain in the Paralympics in the 200m sprint and is considered by many to be the fastest double amputee athlete in the world.
He gives back. He has run half a dozen races with Achilles and mentors many of the Achilles Freedom Team made up of wounded veterans. He holds running clinics at Walter Reed Medical facility, where he spends time talking with recently wounded servicemen and women who have lost limbs. He gives them incredible support and encouragement to not only get up and walk but to possibly one day run.
“In 2004, Achilles offered me guides at the NYC Marathon and gave me the guidance, support and platform to become a World Record Holder! I now am able to mentor other athletes through their programmes and put something back into the sport I love.”