The Weirwolf claims his fourth gold as the Paralympics draw to a close

 

Thousands lined the streets of London to cheer on wheelchair racer David Weir in his quest for a fourth gold medal on the final day of the Games - and they were not disappointed.

Under the blazing sun, Weir took the lead in the final mile of the men’s T54 marathon, and came past Buckingham Palace, into the belly of a very loud crowd and over the finish line in first.

"It's a dream come true," the 33-year-old Londoner said. "Obviously I dreamt about winning all my races but it was going to be a tough order. I really had to dig deep. I did have lots of dreams of winning four gold medals but I think everybody has those dreams. I knew I was capable of doing it.

"The reason I say I only want one gold is because I don't want to put myself under pressure. I want to go into every race not feeling pressured. To tell you the truth, every race I did in that stadium I didn't feel under pressure because the crowd was behind you if you won, lost or anything. It didn't matter what position you came in, they were still behind you and they still loved you."

Like any half-decent Olympic hero, he was met on the finish line by his heavily pregnant wife. After he was given his medal, on a podium in the middle of the Mall in front of Buckingham Palace, he posed for the banks of cameras with a Union Flag around his shoulders, and held his baby son, Mason, on his lap.

One spectator, Ian Cullinan, who was there with his wife said: “It was only just over a month ago we were on the Champs Elysees watching Bradley Wiggins. Now here we are watching this. Incredible. What a summer it’s been."

Weir's crowning triumph came as the final 16 medals were handed out in the London Paralympics on a last day of competition that saw the conclusion of two of the Games' most eagerly-followed events, wheelchair rugby - otherwise known as Murderball - and the 7-a-side football.

Australia, the favourites for the event, secured an emphatic 66-51 victory over Canada to take gold in the closest Paralympic discipline to a contact sport while Russia beat Ukraine 1-0 to take gold in the football.

The Russian victory, which cost the previous Paralympian title holders $1m in bonuses promised for a gold medal, saw them cement their second place in the medals table with 36 golds, ahead of the British team.

ParalympicsGB bosses admitted that demotion to third place in the medals table "did rankle just a bit" but lauded the host nation's performance, which saw them break their medal target of 103 by 17 medals.

Deputy chef de mission Penny Briscoe hailed the athletes’ achievement as “exceptional”.

“We have smashed our medal target,” she said. “And more sports have delivered medals than ever before.

“We are third in the medal table, which does rankle just a tad,” she admitted. “But we are ahead of all our closest competitors in terms of total medals won.”

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