Paralympics: Richard Whitehead smashes his own world 200 metres record


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The Independent Online

Inspirational athlete Richard Whitehead proved he is the fastest man on the planet today by smashing his own world record in front of a packed Olympic Stadium.

Whitehead, 36, powered through the field in the final straight and flexed his biceps in a triumphant "two-gun salute" as he crossed the line.

The stadium erupted as the double amputee ran a lap of honour before hugging his family, who proudly watched in the stands.

Speaking after his stunning victory in the 200 metres T42 final, Whitehead, from Nottingham, said: "It's all about guts and determination.

"Today I came, I saw, I conquered.

"That was what the two-gun salute was all about - in honour of my hero Chris Hoy."

He then dedicated the win to his family, including his fiancee Valerie Davies, who is expecting their first child in January.

Seconds after the phenomenal win, Valerie tweeted: "Love u baby. At finish line! We are all so proud of u! Love val, bump, mum & dad!!! £proudmoment."

Whitehead, a double amputee from birth, was denied the chance to take part in his favoured marathon event, which does not feature in the Games.

His win came on a morning of world records as cycling pair Neil Fachie and Barney Storey produced a stunning performance in the velodrome to take gold in the tandem one-kilometre time-trial.

There is the prospect of more gold medals later today as Lee Pearson looks for success in the dressage before darling of the pool Ellie Simmonds defends her title in the 400m freestyle, after powering through her heat in a personal best time.

But the teenager is still waiting to discover whether her American rival Victoria Arlen - who also comfortably won her heat - will be lining up against her after a reclassification ruling this afternoon.

Simmonds, 17, said after this morning's qualifier that she was "really pleased" by her performance, adding: "I am shocked by it.

"All my coach (Billy Pye) said leading into it was to go in there and hopefully do a 5:30.

"But, yeah, really happy - I've just done a PB in a heat swim which gets me ready for tonight.

"It's going to be a very tough but very exciting race, but I am looking forward to it."

The morning's success puts ParalympicsGB in fourth place in the overall table, with 22 medals, including six gold, 11 silver and five bronze.