The Usain Bolt of para athletics targets new 100m world record on Friday

Brazilian sprinter Petrucio Ferreira dos Santos: “Being compared to him, being called the Paralympic Usain Bolt, makes me really happy. I mean, really, really happy.”

Brazil's Petrucio Ferreira dos Santos takes the Gold Medal in the Men's 100m - T47 Final in the Olympic Stadium during the Paralympic Games, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on September 11, 2016. Photo by Al Tielemans for OIS/IOC via AFP.  RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE.    / AFP PHOTO / OIS/IOC / Al Tielemans for OIS/IOC
Brazil's Petrucio Ferreira dos Santos takes the Gold Medal in the Men's 100m - T47 Final in the Olympic Stadium during the Paralympic Games, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on September 11, 2016. Photo by Al Tielemans for OIS/IOC via AFP. RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. / AFP PHOTO / OIS/IOC / Al Tielemans for OIS/IOC

Brazilian sprinter Petrucio Ferreira dos Santos is aiming to live up to his billing as para athletics’ answer to track legend Usain Bolt as he bids to break his own world record when he starts his men’s T47 100m competition at the Olympic Stadium on Friday.

Paraiba native Santos, 24, took gold in the 100m T47 event on home soil at the Rio 2016 Paralympics before running a world record breaking 10.42 at the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships. He has embraced comparisons to the Jamaican all-time great and eight-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt.

“Which athlete, which runner, doesn’t mirror himself on a great athlete like Bolt?” said Santos, who runs in heat two on Friday afternoon.

The former futsal player, whose left arm was amputated below the elbow after an accident with a grinding machine at the age of two, took up para athletics in 2013 and is overjoyed at being mentioned alongside the greatest sprinter of all time.

“Being compared to him, being called the Paralympic Usain Bolt, makes me really happy. I mean, really, really happy,” said Santos who often emulates Bolt’s trademark victory pose.

Athletics - 2019 World Para Athletics Championships - Dubai Club for People of Determination Athletics Stadium, Dubai, United Arab Emirates - November 12, 2019  Brazil's Petrucio Ferreira dos Santos celebrates winning the Men's 100m T47 Final alongside second placed Brazil's Washington Junior and third placed Brazil's Yohansson Nascimento  REUTERS/Christopher Pike
Athletics - 2019 World Para Athletics Championships - Dubai Club for People of Determination Athletics Stadium, Dubai, United Arab Emirates - November 12, 2019 Brazil's Petrucio Ferreira dos Santos celebrates winning the Men's 100m T47 Final alongside second placed Brazil's Washington Junior and third placed Brazil's Yohansson Nascimento REUTERS/Christopher Pike

“It is really cool to be compared to such an athletics icon. Even if he has retired, his story is there, as well as his records.”

Despite the star billing and weighty comparisons which could burden any world-class athlete, Santos insists that he doesn’t feel any pressure.

“I am a man that likes the challenges. It is not pressure, it is a challenge that I present to myself: try the best you can.

“The other athletes are putting any kind of pressure over me. I have to be myself and understand it’s not a pressure, but a challenge for me to overcome.”

The Brazilian flyer will be aiming to break his own world record in Tokyo and explained that he’s chasing records every time he steps onto the track.

“This (setting a world record) is my personal goal in every competition. I always aim at my best in every training session so that I arrive in a good shape for a competition. When I get to events, I just have to be myself and keep the focus to achieve my goals. And here it will be no different.”

Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games - The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony - Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan - August 24, 2021. Evelyn De Oliveira of Brazil and Petrucio Ferreira Dos Santos of Brazil during the opening ceremony REUTERS/Marko Djurica
Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games - The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony - Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan - August 24, 2021. Evelyn De Oliveira of Brazil and Petrucio Ferreira Dos Santos of Brazil during the opening ceremony REUTERS/Marko Djurica

The reigning world champion added: “I want to show the world that Petrucio came here to deliver a message of endurance and resilience, always believing and chasing dreams. Being daring, taking risks, believing more and more in ourselves and not being afraid of failing.”

Brazil are tipped to dominate the men’s T47 100m event with Santos being joined by teammates Junior Washington, a former world silver medalist, whose personal best time is 10.58, and Lucas de Sousa Lima who ran a personal best of 10.95 this season.

Washington and Lima will run in heat one on the opening day of athletics competition.

The trio are part of 64-strong para athletics team for the hosts of the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Alberto Martins da Costa, NPC Brazil Technical Director, said: “Despite all the challenges imposed by the pandemic, we are looking forward to a great performance in Tokyo. Para athletics will travel with its second largest delegation in the Games, only behind Rio 2016 when Brazil was the host nation.”

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