Brazil’s triple-Paralympic champion Lucas Prado is not only aiming to win three world titles at January’s IPC Athletics World Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand but set new world records as well.
The 25 year old who won 100m, 200m and 400m gold at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games is also the world record holder at the two shorter sprint distances. In Christchurch however, the visually impaired athlete will be going all out to set a new world best time over 400m, his favoured distance.
“I’m focused on winning three gold medals in Christchurch,” Prado told www.paralympic.org, the International Paralympic Committee’s website. “Although I’m training on the 100m and 200m to improve my times I’m trying to set a new world record at 400m as it’s the only one that I don’t have.”
As part of his preparations for the World Championships, the last major gathering of international athletes before London 2012, Prado visited Christchurch earlier this year to get a feeling for the city and the venue. And despite recently suffering an ankle injury, he is currently training six times a week to be in the best possible shape to try break Jose Armando Saiovo’s 400m world record of 50.03 seconds set at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games.
Lucas Prado said: “The weather is certainly not like Brazil. The time zone is really different, the food too. However, the important thing is to focus on my own work there and compete well.
“I’m training Monday to Saturday each week, switching my morning training sessions between bodybuilding and running hills for conditioning. Then in the afternoons I do track training. Sundays are for rest.”
Despite his best preparations, Prado believes there are some things he cannot control in Christchurch, an event he is determined to do well at to revenge not picking up an individual medal at the 2006 IPC Athletics World Championships in Assen, the Netherlands.
“A World Championship is always a surprise,” said Prado who will celebrate his 26th birthday in the week leading up to the Championships. “No-one knows how other athletes are going to perform.
“I expect this World Championships to reveal a new name. But the truth is it doesn’t matter to me who is running well or not. It’s down to me how well I perform.”
Born with no impairment, Prado suffered 90% loss of vision in 2003 following a retinal detachment and only got involved in Paralympic Sport in January 2006 when invited by a guide athlete.
“I established a goal when I started training that I wanted to be the best in the world,” explained Prado.
“I trained hard and I won. I wanted to show that being blind is not a burden, but that the sport could bring life back to me.”
In his first year in athletics Prado picked up a silver medal at the World Championships in the 4x100m. Two years later he was one of the stars of the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games wining gold in the 100m, 200m and 400m T11 class. In addition he set new world records in the 100m and 200m.
“It was a new experience and a dream,” said Prado who describes his coach Amaury Ribeiro as an inspiration and ‘like the father I never had’.
“Even after crossing the finishing line I wanted to continue running. I will always remember Beijing, it is part of history now that I won.
“The last final was the most enjoyable I have ever run. It was just magical. I was just able to raise my hands to the sky and as I followed the track I saw all my life pass in front of me.
“You can have 200,000 more Paralympic Games but this will always be the one for me,” he added.
January’s IPC Athletics World Championships mark the start of two big years in Prado’s career, which he hopes will culminate in three gold medals at the London 2012 Paralympics.
“I’m focused for the World Championships and after that I will compete in the Blind World Games and the Guadalajara 2011 Parapan American Games.
“My plan for London is to remain as the favourite and remain invincible.
“I want to be like Antonio Tenorio, the Brazilian that won Paralympic gold in the last four Judo competitions.”
Prado will be one of a whole host of athletes including big names such as Oscar Pistorius, Marcel Hug and David Weir taking part in January’s IPC Athletics World Championships.
With more than 1,000 athletes from over 70 countries set to compete , Christchurch is set to be the biggest World Championships ever and one of the biggest mass participation sporting events ever to take place in New Zealand.