Athletics: David Weir powers to his second Paralympic gold as Paul Blake feels force to take silver
Paralympic legend blows away 1500m field to keep his dream of four victories alive on another good night for Team GB
The Olympic Stadium
Wednesday 05 September 2012
It was another good night out at the Paralympics for David Weir – "the Weirwolf of London," as he has been christened by his team-mates. It wasn't a bad evening for the son of the bounty hunter who was shot by Han Solo either. Paul Blake, whose father played Greedo in Star Wars, was one of the home medal winners on a night when the Great British bandwagon continued to gather momentum.
Weir was again the star of the show. In the T54 1500m final, the 33-year-old Londoner brought down the 80,000-strong house with a brilliant ride for his second gold of the Games. As in the 5,000m final on Sunday, he judged his tactics to sheer perfection.
There had been talk of his rivals trying to box him on to the kerb but Weir adroitly avoided any trap, spurting clear just after the bell and crossing the line in 3min 12.09sec – 0.13sec ahead of the Thai athlete Prawat Wahoram. That made it two down and two to go, with the 800m and marathon still to come, for the wheelchair racer who is threatening to emerge as the British golden boy of these Games,
"The crowd were amazing," Weir said. "They give you that edge to get you across that line. I will try my best to win another two golds for them. The last 12 weeks I've had some pro cyclists out training with me in Richmond Park and it's given me that extra 20 per cent. They've taken me up to another level."
And his British team-mates have taken up an anthem in his honour. "There's a tune on the internet about a werewolf and London so they've adopted it for me," Weir said, referring presumably to Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London". "I listened to it earlier. It's pretty good."
Weir will be back on the track this morning – accompanied by howls from his sidelines no doubt – for the 800m heats. He now has four Paralympic golds – he also won the 1500m and 800m in Beijing four years ago.
Not that he was the only British medal winning hero of the night. Running in the Men's T36 400m, Blake took silver. His father, Paul Blake senior, played Greedo, the "green rodian" mercenary slain by Harrison Ford's Han Solo in Star Wars. "I thought I could medal, as long as I could execute my race," Paul junior said.
He certainly performed a better execution job than his father. The 22-year-old from Dorchester could not stop Evgenii Shvetcov of Russia prevailing in a world record time of 53.31sec but he gunned down the rest of the field, claiming the silver in 55.20sec, a lifetime best.
"The noise from the crowd was amazing," Blake, who has cerebral palsy, said. "It was like having a second pair of legs."
It took four pairs of legs for the GB women's T35-38 4 x 100m relay team to bring home the baton in a podium position. Due to some hesitation at the final exchange, though, the quartet of Olivia Breen, Bethany Woodward, Katrina Hart and Jenny McLoughlin had to settle for bronze rather than gold.
There was also a medal in the T12/13 1500m. David Devine took the lead at the bell and was passed by David Korir of Kenya and Abderahim Zhiou but showed his family fighting pedigree (his father is a former professional boxer) to take bronze in 3min 49.79, a European record.
It was announced yesterday that Oscar Pistorius would escape punishment for his outburst after being passed by Alan Oliveira in the T43/44 200m final on Sunday. The International Paralympic Committee said they would not be sanctioning the South African following his post-race protest that the Brazilian had an unfair advantage because of his elongated blades. "There will be no disciplinary action," Craig Spence, communications director of the IPC said.
Pistorius will be back in action tonight, running in the heats of the T43/44 100m. He is not the only track and field Olympian competing at the 2012 Paralympic Games. The field for the women's F57/58 discus last night included one Ilke Wyludda, the 1996 Olympic champion in the event.
The 43-year-old was one of the products of the world-beating East German women's athletics machine and stands third on the all-time discus rankings with a throw of 74.56m. In December 2010 she had to choose between losing her right leg or her life when she developed septicaemia.
She chose life and, after the amputation, embraced track and field anew. "However much you cry you are not going to get your limb back," she said.
Wyludda's aim last night was to become the first athlete to win Olympic and Paralympic gold medals. She threw 29.57m with her first attempt, a personal best in Paralympic competition, but it was not good enough to put her on the podium. The former Olympic champion finished ninth.
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