Weir cheer: Wheelchair racer aiming for fourth gold in today's marathon
Howls of support will follow the 'Weirwolf of London' on his quest - as his manager eyes rich rewards
Sunday 09 September 2012
The Weirwolf will be let loose on the streets of central London today, thirsting for fresh blood. Having devoured the opposition in the T54 800m, 1500m and 5,000m on the track in the Olympic Stadium, David Weir is looking to sink his teeth into a fourth Paralympic gold in the marathon.
"I love that 'Weirwolf' thing," says Jamie Baulch, the manager of the home-town wheelchair racer who is poised to finish as the face of these London Paralympics. "It's like 'the Mobot' isn't it? As an agency, we've definitely got to prey on that nickname.
"Dave owns it. It's his title. And it's true. He's an animal. You can see the tee-shirts … the whole thing."
According to Weir, it was one of the team doctors who started calling him "the Weirwolf of London". When the 33-year-old Londoner appeared on the track in the Olympic Stadium on Thursday before the 800m final, the sound of Warren Zevon's 1978 classic "Werewolves of London" came blasting over the public address system – complete with what Radio 2 listeners voted as the greatest opening song line: "Saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand, walking through the streets of Soho in the rain, he was looking for a place called Lee Ho Fook's, going to get a big dish of beef chow mein."
You can hear the "Ahoos"' as the Weirwolf makes his way around the streets of London this morning in the 26.2-mile marathon that starts and finishes on The Mall in front of Buckingham Palace.
And what is more you can also see the marketing opportunities beyond the finish line for this newly acclaimed British sporting star … the full moon, the howl, the facial hair and the shaving implement (terms and conditions apply: brand of blade to be settled by the highest bidder).
As an athlete of no little talent himself, Baulch won Olympic silver in the 4 x 400m relay in Atlanta in 1996 and world indoor gold in the individual 400m in Maebashi in 1999.
Now, as one of the driving forces behind the sports management company Definitive, he certainly knows a winner in the sports marketing game when he sees one, and he has got one on his books in Weir.
Asked what the commercial response has been like as the golds have come rolling, Baulch replies: "Well, put it this way: I texted Dave today and I said, 'Your life after these Games is going to change forever'.
"Thanks to Lord Coe and the whole Olympic and Paralympic spirit that has come to London, what's happening now is people are watching the Paralympics like it's never been watched before.
"I'm getting people phone me up who may have not known Dave a month ago. There are TV shows wanting him to come on now," Baulch adds.
"He was a Paralympic gold medallist and world champ before. The thing is he's doing it when it matters. He's doing it on home soil with everybody watching. And he's absolutely annihilating his competitors.
"We're all glued to it. And we're all astounded by his performances."
Weir already has deals with BMW, Lucozade and the Virgin London Marathon, and Baulch says: "There's going to be a multitude of other things that will come out of this, from some of the conversations I'm having with people behind the scenes.
"The more he gets on the well-known TV shows – the big talk shows, and I'm having people ringing the office with regards to Dave – the more people are going to want him. That's how it works. The more you're in the public eye, the more you become a household name, the more financial rewards you get in sport.
"Just look at Oscar Pistorius. He was a household name before he came to London. And look at Mo Farah. He's got over half a million followers on Twitter now.
"That's why I said to Dave that his life's going to change – because he's doing it when it matters, in front of a proud nation.
"I think we've done a brilliant job with the Olympics and the Paralympics and everyone's just feeling sport fever. Everyone's loving it. This is the right time to show off your peacock feathers. And Dave's definitely ruffling his."
Weir has spoken of becoming a nightclub DJ when he retires from competition, but just when the final finish line might come for the Weirwolf is not certain.
"Me and him haven't had that conversation yet," Baulch says. "Is he going to carry on doing this? ... I think the question for him is more, 'Will he not want to do it?'
"If you've just made yourself a household name, the one thing you want to do is carry that on. So I think the future is going to be very bright for Dave."
The class of 2012
Most British Golds at this Paralympics:
4 Sarah Storey (cycling)
3 Sophie Christiansen (equestrianism)
3 David Weir (wheelchair athletics)
2 Natasha Baker (equestrianism)
2 Hannah Cockroft (wheelchair athletics)
2 Ellie Simmonds (swimming)
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