Athletics: David Weir is hailed as 'best wheelchair racer of all time' after fourth gold

 

It was a marathon but it might as well have been just a sprint. Apart from the start and a couple of fixed-camera shots on each of the four laps, all Channel Four showed of the final race on the Paralympic athletics programme yesterday was the 350m dash for the finish line.

Those of us gathered on the Mall saw even less – just the 31 wheelchair racers in the T54 men's marathon flash by once every 10km lap.

At least we could see "The Weirwolf of south London" emerging from the leading pack to claim his fourth gold medal of the Games. Not that David Weir was aware of his latest golden moment. Not precisely, anyway. There was no celebration from the 33-year-old as he crossed the line on his chariot of fire, to howls of delight from the crowds massed in the shadow of Buckingham Palace.

"I didn't know where the finishing line was," Weir confessed. "That's why I looked a bit moody.

"I didn't know if it was the first line or the second line. Then I saw the lead car stop down the end of the Mall, so I thought, 'Maybe it's down there,' because there was no tape. That's why I carried on pushing. I just didn't know."

As if the Forrest Gump of wheelchair racing hadn't done enough pushing at these Games. Winner of the 5,000m the previous Sunday, of the 1,500m on Wednesday and of the 800m on Friday, his literal and metaphorical marathon effort yesterday actually took him across the line in 1hr 30min 21sec – one second ahead of Switzerland's Marcel Hug, the silver medallist, and Australian Kurt Fearnley, who took bronze.

In doing so, Weir joined Tanni Grey-Thompson in the record books. The grand Dame is the only other British track and field athlete to have won four gold medals at a Paralympic Games, a feat she achieved in Barcelona in 1992 and in Sydney in 2000. Lord Weirwolf, anyone?

In seven races (including heats) in nine unforgettable days, the self-effacing, quietly spoken Paralympian from the Roundshaw Estate on the site of the old Croydon Aerodrome (from whence Amy Johnson made her historic flight to Australia in 1930) has wheeled his way into the nation's affections as a great British sporting phenomenon.

Peter Eriksson, head coach of the British athletics team that finished the Games with 11 golds and 29 medals in all, comfortably inside their target, said: "David is the best wheelchair racer in history."

And Eriksson should know. He happens to be the most successful Paralympic coach of all time.

"It was tough, the toughest race I've ever had in my life," Weir said. "In the first five miles I was absolutely dying. I didn't think I was going to manage to cope, with the heat and everything.

"I felt flat. I had to just dig deep and have another energy shot that I took with me just to get me going. The crowd kept me going too. They just give you such a lift. My whole body was tingling."

After a week of disappointment on the track, Shelly Woods also finished with a tingling medal-winning feeling yesterday.

The 26-year-old from Lytham St Annes took silver in the T54 women's marathon, finishing a second down on Shirley Reilly of the United States in 1hr 46min 34sec.

As for the Weirwolf, though, what might his golden haul do for his sport in Britain? "I'm just honoured to see that Paralympic sport has got the recognition it deserves," he said. "I've been banging on about it for years.

"It's about time that we got some recognition because we're superhumans and we're phenomenal athletes." No one will argue with that.

Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again say analysts

News
A Brazilian wandering spider
news

World's most lethal spider found under a bunch of bananas

News
people
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in the win over QPR
footballInternet reacts to miss shocker for Liverpool striker
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Sol Campbell near his home in Chelsea
voices
News
i100
News
Kimi the fox cub
newsBurberry under fire from animal rights group - and their star, Kimi
Sport
Fans of Palmeiras looks dejected during the match between Palmeiras and Santos
footballPalmeiras fan killed trying to 'ambush' bus full of opposition supporters
Arts and Entertainment
filmsIt's nearly a wrap on Star Wars: Episode 7, producer reveals
Life and Style
fashion
News
i100
News
<p>Jonathan Ross</p>
<p>Jonathan Ross (or Wossy, as he’s affectionately known) has been on television and radio for an extraordinarily long time, working on a seat in the pantheon of British presenters. Hosting Friday Night with Jonathan Ross for nine years, Ross has been in everything from the video game Fable to Phineas and Ferb. So it’s probably not so surprising that Ross studied at Southampton College of Art (since rebranded Southampton Solent), a university known nowadays for its media production courses.</p>
<p>However, after leaving Solent, Ross studied History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, now part of the UCL, a move that was somewhat out of keeping with the rest of his career. Ross was made a fellow of the school in 2006 in recognition of his services to broadcasting.</p>
TV

Rumours that the star wants to move on to pastures new

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey indulge in some racing at a Point to Point
tvNew pictures promise a day at the races and a loved-up Lady Rose
News
people

Comedian says he 'never laughed as hard as I have writing with Rik'

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past