Sport on TV: Weir and wonderful - shake your tail feathers, Jonnie
Sunday 09 September 2012
Move over, Super Saturday, it's time for Thriller Thursday. As Clare Balding intoned breathlessly, it was "the biggest half-hour Paralympic sport has ever known". There was David Weir going for his third gold medal in the wheelchair T54 800m, then Pistorius v Peacock in the showpiece T44 100m. And before "the Weirwolf" we had seen "Hurricane" Hannah Cockcroft complete the 100m and 200m double. It must be time for Jonnie Peacock to have a nickname, but he doesn't really need one. He looked just fine with the Union flag draped over his shoulders like the big bird's fantail. And this time there was no squawking from Oscar Pistorius.
Pistorius was probably called a few names after he accused Alan Oliveira – who ever heard of a Brazilian called Alan? Perhaps he's a fan of Alan Brazil's radio show – of using blades that were too long after the 200m last week. Beware the perils of the post-race interview when the blood is still pumping and the wounds are fresh. But on Thursday Pistorius was utterly gracious in defeat, predicting that Peacock would dominate the event for years and proclaiming: "I'm incredibly happy".
Instead it was Peacock who delivered the Oscar acceptance speech, thanking everyone he could think of – except his coach, who he forgot about. A star was born. And magically, before the race Peacock had silenced the 80,000 crowd baying his name simply by putting his fingers to his lips. The interviewer might have done the same to him, because there was no shutting him up.
The excitement was palpable and infectious. The track pundit Danny Crates, a gold medallist at 800m in Sydney, verged on hysteria. "I don't think this crowd is going to be able to sustain themselves," he screeched, and you feared for all those spectators starving to death because they couldn't reach the hot-dog stand. "I was going to say David [Weir] is ready to blow the roof off," said Dame Kelly Holmes, "but there's no roof."
And it seems that there is no ceiling to Weir's ambitions. He races in the marathon today, his best event, but after his third victory he was quite downbeat. "I may not look like I'm enjoying it," he said. "But I'm tired." Tired of doing all those interviews, perhaps.
We were told that when Mo Farah won his second gold medal the crowd noise reached 111 decibels, while for Weir's second it was 110. But Weir has gone one better than Mo, whose wife was about to give birth to twins. Mrs Weir is due to have their third child next month, so he had to get three golds, not just two.
As his shirt split open to the navel on the last lap, at least we knew that the "poster boy of the Games" would have plenty of gaudy medallions to decorate his chest even if, disappointingly for a werewolf, it wasn't hairy enough.
For all of Channel 4's outstanding coverage of the Paralympics, you can never get away from their commercial imperative, with the proliferation of adverts. They have to be paid back for their £9 million investment, not having a licence fee to fall back on. But was there really any need, just before the "biggest half-hour", to start gloating about being the only non-subscription channel that can now show horseracing? Surely it was a case of excessive use of the whip.
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