With 50 days to go until the London 2017 World Para Athletics Championships, the USA’s Richard Browne has said he is still the one to beat despite the presence of Great Britain’s two-time Paralympic champion Jonnie Peacock.
Browne, the 100m and 200m T44 world champion, missed Rio 2016 after surprising everyone and retiring mid-season. His decision followed a difficult few months which included a car accident in January and a hamstring injury in June.
However, after taking a long break from the sport, Browne has returned to the track following encouragement from his friends and family. Now, the 26-year-old has set his sights firmly on retaining the world titles he won in 2015.
“That is the only goal. I’m just looking forward to pacing myself through the season. I’m a lot smarter now these days and older and wiser,” said Browne, who could only watch on television last September as Peacock retained his Paralympic title in 10.81 seconds.
“I’m just looking forward to July. I feel like I’m still the guy to beat at the end of the day. I’m still the world record holder. I’m still in that form, I don’t think that me running a world record this year is out of reach, I feel like I can do that going in to London this year so I’m looking forward to it.
“I want both titles, I can’t be satisfied with just one,” added Browne whose world record stands at 10.61 seconds.
Browne admits he was surprised at how slow the times were at Rio 2016 and believes that had he not retired he would have topped the Paralympic podium.
“I was devastated. It was really hard for me to deal with watching it – it literally brought tears to my eyes,” said Browne.
“Even in the condition I was in, I felt I could have won those races after seeing the results. But everybody’s smarter in hindsight.”
Browne’s rivalry with Peacock dates back to the London 2012 Paralympic Games. In front of 80,000 people Peacock took gold and Browne the silver, positions they repeated once again at the Lyon 2013 World Championships.
“Jonnie is the man right now – if I am him I’m not worried about anything,” continued Browne.
“He’s the guy at the top, he should be comfortable where he is. He came out and did what he needed to do so I think me being back this year and it being in London, all the athletes are extremely excited.
“We know that London does a great job. He’s going in as the two-time Paralympic champion and I’m the defending world champion so we will see what happens, I think it is going to be fun, but I don’t think he’s going to win,” laughed Browne.
The two are likely to go head-to-head once again at London 2017 on Sunday 16 July when the final of the 100m T44 takes place. To buy tickets, click here.