The London 2012 Paralympic champions will lead the British team at the Rio Games
Reigning Paralympic champions Richard Whitehead and Hannah Cockroft have been named captains of the British athletics team for the Paralympic Games in Rio.
Whitehead won T42 200m gold in London and recently took more than a second off the world record set four years ago by clocking 23.03 in the British capital.
Not only aiming for a sprint double, Whitehead also hopes to inspire others in his role as male captain of the team.
“I think when you’re in a team that’s the best prepared with the best athletes in the world it’s a great opportunity to be the voice of the team and guide that team into the Games,” he said.
“Hopefully I’m able to not only have a positive voice, but also a positive performance starting with the team meeting later on guiding the team to the best Games haul of medals that we’ve ever had.
“You’ve got athletes that have been to multiple Games that can provide so much knowledge and experience to the younger athletes. You only have to look at the legacy of London 2012 and the likes of Sophie Hahn and Maria Lyle that have come to the fore. Myself and my co-captain Hannah Cockroft are hopefully supporting those athletes with success.”
Cockroft has also been in fine form, winning every major title since she claimed double gold at London 2012. The 24-year-old, who will be going for gold in the T34 100m, 400m and 800m in Brazil, is excited to have been given the opportunity to share her words of wisdom on how to deal with the pressures that surround a major Games.
“It’s a massive honour and when Paula told me I was thinking ‘it’s only my second Games’ so although I’ve probably got a lot to learn, it’s really exciting,” she said. “Hopefully I can do everyone proud and do really well out here.
“I think the best advice given to me going into London was to soak up every minute and don’t be afraid of doing things your own way. Go out there, enjoy it and put everything into it. We’ve worked hard for four years for this and some of us longer and you’re the person that’s going to make it amazing. Paralympic Games is an absolutely phenomenal thing to be involved with, so enjoy it and do your absolute best.”
Paralympic head coach Paula Dunn said: “Richard and Hannah’s record at major championships speaks for itself. They have delivered on the biggest stage time and time again, which will act as huge inspiration to the team going into the Paralympic Games.
“We have a number of athletes making their first appearance at a Games and at the other end, Stephen Miller will make his sixth, which is an incredible achievement. Having the likes of Richard and Hannah to support those journeys will prove invaluable.
“We saw the success of TeamGB at the Olympic Games and we will be leaving no stone unturned to ensure that deliver those performances, which make the country proud.”