US sprinter Jarryd Wallace believes he will be ‘hard to beat’ at the upcoming Paralympic Games.
The 26-year-old lines up in the men’s 100m T44 on 9 September against the likes of Great Britain’s defending Paralympic champion Jonnie Peacock in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.
“I’m in a place now mentally that no matter what the rest of the field have done, in the middle of the race I’m going to run my race plan,” said Wallace, who won 100m T44 Parapan Am gold 12 months ago in what was then a world record time.
“I believe that if I execute what we’ve been working on in practise, and I execute what I know I’m physically capable of, then I’m going to be a hard guy to beat.”
Wallace has every reason to feel confident. Consistently clocking sub-11 second times this year, the American beat Peacock at July’s IPC Athletics Grand Prix Final in London, Great Britain.
With world champion and world record holder Richard Browne also out of the equation having announced his retirement earlier this summer, Wallace, who finished sixth in the 400m T44 at London 2012, knows that this could be his moment.
“We left London and built a four-year training plan to go in to Rio – what we thought it would take for me to get physically, mentally and emotionally prepared to put ourselves in a position to win a gold or a couple of golds in Rio,” explained Wallace, who has been focussing solely on the 100m for the last two years.
Wallace knows too that Peacock has a habit of performing when it counts – and this year has all been about preparing for Rio.
The Briton, who, like Wallace, missed out on last year’s World Championships through injury, tops the world rankings after clocking 10.68 in Loughborough, Great Britain, last month.
“Obviously Jonnie is my biggest rival this season - he’s an amazing competitor, we have a similar style of running in how we break down our races, and we are both aware of that.
“Everyone knows he shows up to the big races and he competes, but I would say that I do the same thing. I haven’t been a specialist in the 100m, but I have won six gold medals in different international and national events so I do do the same thing,” added Wallace, who won his second US national 100m T44 title this year to add to his Parapan Am Games golds from 2011 and 2015 and two titles from the World Championships in 2013.
Wallace has also been careful not to succumb to the same physical pressures that ruled him out of last year’s World Championships.
“We changed up our training a little bit, we learned a lot from last year, making some big changes late in the season.
“We had big races last year but we wanted to make the changes to see what my body was able to handle and what we were able to do. It paid off to a certain point - I broke the world record in the 100m at the Parapan Ams, but I came home and my body just broke down.
“So we re-evaluated and coming in to this year we had a phenomenal understanding of what my body is able to do. We know the days that I can train harder and the days when I need to pull back, and that’s allowed me to run consistently.”
Four years on from London 2012, and with six years’ experience as a Para athlete, Wallace believes he can only get better.
“Based on how we’re running in practise, if everything comes together then there’s no doubt in my mind that the world record is attainable,” he added.
“If it happens in Rio that’s the storybook – that’s what (triple Olympic champion) Usain Bolt did in Beijing and it would be unbelievable to have that opportunity. But that race isn’t about breaking the world record, it’s about crossing the line first. I think it’s in the tank, it’s just about putting the right race together.”
If the prospect of a Paralympic title isn’t enough, three weeks after the Rio Games, Wallace will marry his fiancée Lea – he has planned a surprise honeymoon.
“It’s a great distraction. Rio is a 10 and a half second moment that will be an absolute blast, and hopefully I will create memories that will last a lifetime, but marriage is forever.
“Although Rio is first, the wedding is the most important event for me this year. Having it and her to look forward to keeps me grounded.”
Sport fans from around the world can now buy their Paralympic tickets for Rio 2016 from authorised ticket resellers (ATRs)
The IPC’s Global ATR is Jet Set Sports, and Rio 2016 tickets and packages can be purchased on the CoSport website.
Residents of Brazil can buy 2016 Paralympics tickets directly from the Rio 2016 website.
Visa International is the exclusive payment card and the official payment system for the Paralympic Games.