Richard Whitehead retains T42 200m and sets sights on Para Athletics 100m

If this does turn out to be Richard Whitehead’s farewell tour, the Paralympic legend’s swaggering defence of his T42 200m title at the World Para Athletics Championships was the perfect way to prepare for the ultimate quest of finally becoming the 100m world champion.

On a night when Sophie Hahn, Hollie Arnold and Sammi Kinghorn broke world records to clinch golds in the T38 200m, the F46 javelin and the T53 200m respectively, the London Stadium reserved its loudest and fondest cheer for Whitehead, who later dodged questions about whether winning Monday night’s T42 100m final will convince him to retire. It seems the double Paralympic champion, who turns 41 on Wednesday, intends to keep us guessing for as long as possible.

“I’m not considering that at the moment,” Whitehead said. “It’s all about one race at a time and I don’t want to get ahead of myself.”

While Whitehead has never won the 100m, he remains untouchable in the 200m, setting a world record of 23.01sec earlier this year. Ntando Mahlangu’s time will surely come but for now the teenage South African sensation will have to be content with existing in his older rival’s shadow. The 15-year-old, who finished second to Whitehead at Rio 2016, had to settle for silver again, running 23.95sec.

There were brief fears that Mahlangu might rain on the anticipated parade. Whitehead attributed a slightly concerning start to problems with his starting block but there was no stopping him once he got into his stride. “As you come off the bend it just reignites those memories of 2012,” Whitehead said. “That whirlwind effect of pulling you to the finish line. When you’re a British athlete and you’re able to do it in your home stadium, it’s special.”

Whitehead was comfortably clear of the field as he approached the line and he crossed it in 23.26 to claim his fourth consecutive world title.

Winning is hardly a new sensation for him but it was clearly an emotional moment.

Whitehead lay flat on his back, his head in his hands and a big grin on his face, before rising to lap up the crowd’s acclaim and tease them about the prospect of running again next year.

“Everybody asks me if I’m going to race next year,” Whitehead said. “If you want me to race, then maybe I’ll do that. Do you want me to race?”

The crowd roared. Then they turned their attention to Hahn. This was turning into a big night for Britain, who topped the medal table after day two.

Whitehead was watching when Hahn burst away in blistering fashion. He tipped her to finish in 26.1sec. The 20-year-old made it in 26.11sec to become the 200m world champion for the first time. Hahn’s team-mate, Kadeena Cox, won bronze after being pipped to silver by Germany’s Lindy Ave.

“I’m absolutely delighted,” Hahn said. “To win and break a world record in front of a home crowd is just phenomenal. The world record was a complete surprise but I’ve been working really hard, so to win gold and break the world record, I’m so happy.”

Arnold, who won gold at last year’s Paralympic Games, was never going to be denied her third consecutive world title. The 23-year-old from Grimsby was delighted with her throw of 43.02m.

“That was a fantastic series for me,” she said. “I went out there to smash it and I did. It was great to get the world record. I knew that fourth throw was close but I wasn’t sure if I’d got it.”

Kinghorn broke her own world record with a time of 28.61sec.

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