London 2012 athletics champion Cristian Valenzuela is aiming high at the London 2017 World Para Athletics Championships, where he is hoping to successfully defend the title in the men’s 5,000m T11 that he won at Doha 2015.
The Chilean middle-distance runner is still fresh from winning silver in the 1,500m T11-12 at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, last weekend.
“Although it is always good to compete, the balance is not positive because I could have clocked a better time,” said Valenzuela, who was disqualified from the 1,500m T11 and did not start the 5,000m T11 due to an injury at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
“I have little time to change what needs to be changed and work hard ahead of the World Championships in London. It is a big opportunity for me to bounce back after delivering one of the worst performances in my career at last year’s Paralympic Games.”
Chile’s only Paralympic gold medallist in history will run the 1,500m and 5,000m T11 at London 2017 with guide Raul Moya. But it will not be easy for him to reach the podium again considering the strong opponents he will be facing at the Worlds.
Kenya’s three-time Paralympic champion Samwei Mushai Kimani will be the man-to-beat in those events, followed closely by Brazil’s Rio 2016 two-time silver medallist Odair Santos.
Valenzuela will have to clock the best time of his life in both events to claim a medal at this year’s World Championships. His best time is 4:07.79 in the 1,500m T11 and 15:26.26 in the 5,000m T11, both from London 2012.
At last year’s Paralympics in Rio, Turkey’s Semih Deniz won bronze in the 1,500m T11 with a time of 4:05.42, whilst Kenya’s Bill Wilson, guided by David Korir, crossed the finish line third in the 5,000m T11 by clocking 15:22.96.
But Valenzuela remains confident and said: “I want to give my best and finish amongst the top three in both events.”