As David Weir emerged from the tunnel on to the main stage London 2012 arena yesterday lunchtime, the 80,000 crowd were fluttering their mini Union flags and singing along to the sound of Freddie Mercury blasting over the public address system…"Don't stop me now."
Nothing could stop Weir when it came to the T54 5,000m final on Sunday night and, after the 33-year-old Londoner had collected his reward at the medal ceremony yesterday, it was the same with Mickey Bushell in the T53 100m final. Fuelled by the chariot of fire deeds of his team-mate the night before, the Shropshire lad led from the second push of his wheels to the finish.
He crossed the line 0.34sec clear of his closest pursuer, Zhao Yufei of China, in 14.75sec, a Paralympic record time. In doing so, Bushell claimed a fifth gold medal for the burgeoning British track-and-field team at these home Games – three more than they won in Beijing four years ago, and with six days of competition remaining.
Weir was responsible for the two golds in the Chinese capital. He also played a key role in Bushell upgrading from silver in 2008 to gold in 2012. "Last night I watched Dave Weir and as he crossed the line I was bouncing off the walls in my room," Bushell said. "Dave's been a massive influence. He was there for me in Beijing, even with all the stuff he had to deal with as well. He's a fantastic guy, a great role model to look up to."
The quietly spoken Bushell – the type to hide his light under himself – is made of role model stuff of his own. The 22-year-old from Telford was born without seven vertebrae in the lower part of his back and doctors told his parents that the chances of him ever being able to sit up or move on his own were remote. Last night he moved up on to the same top step of the podium that Weir had occupied earlier in the day, drawing a tweeted tribute from the home hero of the night before. "Smashed it, mate," Weir tweeted. "Wicked. Love ya x"
Weir was back on track at 10.40am yesterday, 12 hours after his 5,000m triumph, for the heats of the T54 1500m. He did just enough to make it through to tonight's final, coasting to third place in 3min 11.35sec behind the Swiss world record holder, Marcel Hug, and Thailand's Prawat Wahoram.
"I feel quite fresh actually, which is surprising," Weir reported. "When they upped the pace I didn't feel like I was struggling at all. It was just about qualifying. I had to squeeze through. That was my aim.
"I had bags of speed in my arms. That just shows you how fit I am. A lot of it is adrenalin as well, from last night.
"I was in doping control until 1am, got back to my room at 2am and couldn't get to sleep. I had to put a film on my laptop to get me off to sleep. That was at 3.30am. I was up at 6am so I've only had a few hours' sleep. I'll have a nap this afternoon and go to bed early tonight."
Weir will be back tonight for the T54 1500m final and also has the 800m and marathon to come. There was disappointment for Britain in the T37 1500m final last night when Dean Miller finished out of the medals in seventh place.
There was more than disappointment for Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer. When George Osborne was introduced as the medal presenter for the men's T38 400m, boos rang round the stadium. He did not look amused.Reuse content