Ex-champion fuming after wheelchair collision
Sunday 21 April 2013
The London Marathon organisers were criticised by Josh Cassidy, a former winner of the men's wheelchair race, after the Canadian collided with Tiki Gelana, the Olympic champion and women's favourite, at a drinks station nine miles into the race.
The collision, which knocked Gelana to the ground and damaged Cassidy's chair, ended both athletes' hopes of contending the finish. Gelana continued running after her heavy fall but quickly dropped off the leading group and eventually limped home in 16th place. Cassidy dropped out of his race for a time before he too resumed and finished down the field.
"It's something I have mentioned before," said Cassidy, winner in 2010. "Every year we come to overtake the women, there's 10 chairs going at 20mph and the poor women are scrambling to find their feet. I have a brand new $2,000 pair of wheels that are damaged – who's going to pay for them? Things have to change. The safest thing would be to have the chairs start first because one of these years a woman is going to have a leg broken, a career ruined. It's just not worth having this programme if the races are going to suffer."
Both the collision and its coverage by the BBC brought criticism from a number of Paralympic athletes, including Hannah Cockroft, who was angered by what she perceived to be scant attention paid by the broadcasters to Cassidy after the crash. "Legacy? What legacy?" tweeted the London 2012 gold medallist.
The women's wheelchair race was won by Tatyana McFadden, the American completing an emotional double just six days after winning in Boston. She also set a new course record. "All our thoughts are still with Boston," she said.
David Weir, looking for a record seventh London title, could only finish fifth in the men's wheelchair race, won in a sprint finish by Australian Kurt Fearnley.
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