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O'Hanlon rejects proposed Games merger

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Fleta Page

Dual gold Paralympic medallist Evan O'Hanlon is back in Canberra after the Games.

Dual gold Paralympic medallist Evan O'Hanlon is back in Canberra after the Games. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

Usain Bolt is the perfect pre-show entertainment for Evan O'Hanlon, the Paralympian rejecting an idea that would have the two world record-holding sprinters sharing a stage.

''I like the Olympics being our warm-up event - they can go and test everything, check it's all working and we can go in a couple of weeks later,'' he said.

''I think the Olympics and the Paralympics stand alone as two separate events, they have different personalities, and as a Paralympian I don't think I'd want to be part of the Olympics.

''I'm the best of a small group of athletes that happen to have the same disability as me, Usain Bolt is the best in the world full stop, and there's a difference and we're proud of it I think.''

O'Hanlon broke two world records in his two events in London - becoming the fastest ever Australian Paralympian - and was rewarded with flag bearing duties at the closing ceremony, but he says the significance of the London Paralympic Games is even greater.

''I think London was probably a real turning point in Paralympic history,'' he said.

''We began to really get some decent media coverage and some real exposure for our results - our results have come up a long way and also the media around those has increased astronomically and it's just pushing Paralympic sport really fast into a really professional arena.''

So successful were the London Games that president of the International Paralympic Committee Sir Philip Craven has said he is open to the idea of merging the Paralympics with the Olympic Games, a move O'Hanlon doesn't support.

The 24-year-old, who has trained at the Australian Institute of Sport since 2005, won gold on the track in the T38 100m and 200m for athletes with cerebral palsy.

''I won them in Beijing in world record time and I was trying to do that again in London, I obviously achieved my goals [but] I would've liked to have run a little bit faster, in the 100 especially,'' he said.

He won the 100m in 10.79 seconds, a world record and the fastest time of any Australian Paralympian of all disabilities, having bettered arm amputee Tim Matthews's mark of 10.85s.

It was the first time he'd cracked the 10.8-second barrier, and having beaten 11 seconds in Beijing in 2008, O'Hanlon's next target is 10.6 seconds, a mark he hoped he might have reached in London.

''10.6 I would have been really, really, really happy with but still happy with 10.79; a win's a win and with a world record.

''In the next couple of years leading into Rio, I think I can definitely get down to 10.6.''

After enjoying a month off to catch up with friends and family, O'Hanlon will ''start thinking about training again'' in the coming weeks.

''I wouldn't want to train anywhere else … and I wouldn't want to train with anyone else other than my current coach, Iryna Dvoskina.

''She's been my coach for my whole sprinting career,'' he said.

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