Defending champ Pinheiro assesses inside threat

A distance runner, Paulo Pinheiro, raises his hand as crosses the finish line

Credit: ANDDI

Portugal’s defending champion Paulo Pinheiro has spoken about the threat his teammate Jose Azevedo poses to his title ahead of the 2017 International Federation for Intellectual Impairment Sport (World Intellectual Impairment Sport) European Half Marathon Championships which take place in Udine, Italy, on Sunday (17 September).

Pinheiro has medalled at every edition of the competition since 2005, including two golds and two silvers. However 28-year-old Azevedo is the world champion.

It is set to be one of the most exciting storylines of Udine 2017 as athletes from across Europe take to the course as part of the prestigious Udine marathon.

“At this moment he [Azevedo] is better than me and I feel that I have no conditions to overcome him. He is more young,” Pinheiro said.

He will also be looking over his shoulder at Spain’s Asier Santos, another serial medallist from distance running who claimed bronze at the 2016 World Championships.

However the 40-year-old is still determined to give his best, using his years of experience to his advantage. And when asked what his aims are, Pinheiro is still thinking big: “Do my best and achieve the European title.”

Pinheiro says his wife and Olympic medallist Rui Silva inspire him to greatness.

Having started marathon running about 15 years ago he said that the sport has helped him to overcome his impairment by making him feel good and stay healthy. He also said it steers him away from “bad ways”.

“I try to face them [challenges from his impairment] calmly and never let them demotivate me,” said Pinheiro.

Live updates from the 2017 World Intellectual Impairment Sport European Half Marathon will be available at World Intellectual Impairment Sport’ Facebook and Twitter throughout the event.