Preview of IPC World Disability Athletics Championships, July 14-23, London Olympic Stadium, by Stuart Weir


P1060333.JPGWarm Up track, IPC World Champs, photo by Stuart Weir

I must admit, one of the people who truly makes me smile at various athletic meetings, besides Australian commentator, and bon vivant, Maurie Plant, is Stuart Weir. For some time now, I have identified Stuart as a Scotsman, and he gently reminded me in London last weekend, that while he can play that role for me, he is NOT a Scotsman.

So, Stuart Weir is NOT a Scotsman, but a man who lives near Oxford, England and who, in his spare time, writes for RunBlogRun.

Who is Stuart Weir? Stuart Weir is enjoying a second career as a sports journalist, who travels the world, finding wonder in all aspects of our sport. He also, and this is what I enjoy most, finds humor in much of our sport. He also gets the athletes to smile at the least, and laugh at the most.

Stuart will spend this weekend at the IPC World Championships in London, England, at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, writing on some of the most amazing and inspiring athletes in the world.

We hope you enjoy!

A common theme at the pre IPC World Disability Athletics Championships press conference was the athletes' enthusiasm for London as a venue. The event starts tomorrow (14th) and runs for 9 days.

P1060341.JPGIPC Presser, From the left - Craig Spence (IPC), Tatyana McFadden, Marcel Hug, Markus Rehm, Marlou van Rhijn and Dan Greaves, photo by Stuart Weir

Dutch amputee sprinter, Marlou van Rhijn, talked of how the crowd had lifted her performance at the 2012 Parlympics. Tatyana McFadden said that the London Paralympics would always have a special place in her memories because it was there that she won her first Paralympic medal.

Jarryd Wallace, US amputee sprinter, also loves London and has high expectations: "London did such a tremendous job in hosting the event and really changed the perception of disability in the UK. Having seen it happen before in London. I am excited to have the meet back there and we are hoping that we can in some capacity re-capture the 2012 spirit".

The 2015 World Championships were in Doha. The athletics was excellent and the event well run, but the stadium was almost empty. Lyon (France) in 2013 put the event in a small community stadium. To have the event in a stadium with a large capacity takes it to a new level. With 250,000 tickets sold already, the stadium could be rocking.

However, not everyone shares that enthusiasm; the security guard who searched my bag asked if I had come to buy the new West Ham United home shirt! (West Ham is the London Premier League soccer team which plays in the stadium and whose merchandise store is in the stadium complex). I told him that there was an athletics World Championship taking place.


Markus Rehm, IPC WC, Doha, 2015, photo by IPC

German long jumper, Markus Rehm, who has a mark of 8.40 to his name, spoke of his enthusiasm for his competition. I always feel that he comes across so gracious and without resentment over the debates by administrators as to why he might have an advantage over jumpers with two natural legs and therefore should not be allowed to compete in IAAF events.

Jarryd Wallace and Jonnie Peacock appeared together to preview their T44 (amputee) 100 metres race, which takes place on Sunday evening.

Paralympic champion and 2013 world champion Peacock said: "2012 was huge for me in that stadium, but coming back here five years later with the aim of winning a world title is even more exciting. The nerves really hit me when I walked into the stadium today. We have been to a holding camp where we have been in the shadows preparing for the championships but now we have come here, it has become real."

Wallace, is looking forward to renewing his rivalry with a certain Jonnie Peacock: "He is a stud and a great competitor and he's become a great friend as well. It's always fun to have him on the circuit. He is a great guy to race against and have in the sport".

The answer of the day came from Swiss wheelchair racer, Marcel Hug, who was asked how he felt about the retirement of his great rival, David Weir. Hug replied: "About time too!" before bursting out laughing and adding that he might win more races now. He then paid tribute to his former rival.

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