Portugal’s world champion Jose Azevedo will line-up at the 2017 International Federation for Intellectual Impairment Sport (INAS) European Half Marathon Championships in Udine, Italy, on Sunday (17 September) determined to fill the one empty space in his trophy cabinet.
Despite running his first half marathon a decade ago the 28-year-old has never won European gold and wants to put that right.
“This is the title I lack in my career,” Azevedo said. “I’m looking forward to the Championships.”
Azevedo will face a tough field that includes his defending champion teammate Paulo Pinheiro and Spain’s Asier Santos, who finished third behind him at the 2016 World Championships.
“My main goal is get to the podium. I work out every day to give my best. I feel happy [to have Pinheiro as a rival]. There is a good chance of having two places on the podium,” Azevedo continued.
As well as his intellectual impairment, which he was diagnosed with during school, Azevedo has also had to overcome problems with his speech.
“I did speech treatment to improve. For years I have made great efforts to be equal to anyone,” he said.
He began running with his friends and soon found it to be addictive.
“I felt the adrenaline of overcoming myself and I could not stop.
“If I work hard I become a champion. I learned that. If I fight in this life and do my best, I reach my goals”.