David Weir, photo by PhotoRun.net
Yesterday, the two of the most beloved athletics athletes in Great Britian competed in their last Diamond League. We will write about Mo Farah later today, but for now, cousin Stuart Weir is writing on cousin David Weir, the man who made Paralympics popular in his home country. David will race on the roads only in the future, and yesterday, in the London Olympic Stadium, where, five years ago, he was so amazing, he ended his career with a win over T54 800 meters.
Weir on Weir
David Weir won the 2017 Anniversary Games, T54 800 metres race against a totally British field In a time of 2:02:37. It was the last time he will race his wheelchair on the track. At the age of 36 he has decided to call a halt on an illustrious career. He said of today: “That is definitely the last time on the track. It was very emotional at the start and afterwards and it is going to be weird when the Paras [The IPC World Athletics Championship] start on Friday. It was great to have the crowd to support today as always. This is the finale that I wanted – I felt that younger athletes should be there. For British athletes to come here and experience what I have experienced so many times. It is amazing to have my family here with me especially my kids who don’t come to many races. This is a special stadium with very special memories. This crowd and the stadium are special and always will be”.
David Weir’s record speaks for itself – 10 Paralympic and 8 World Championship medals in addition to winning the London Marathon 6 times in a career stretching at the elite level fro 2000-2017 – but the sheer figures do not do justice to his contribution. When GB Paralympic Haed coach, Paula Dunn, said: “David Weir has been a great ambassador for the sport. He is a legend of the sport” she was not exaggerating. David Weir has been the face of wheelchair racing in GB for nearly two decades.
He has been at the forefront of the moment which has seen disability sport taken seriously and not just patronisingly tolerated. He has been part of a movement which increased public awareness of disability sport to the point where 230,000 tickets have been sold for the London 2017 Athletics World Championship.
Rio 2016 was an unhappy event for him. He finished 4th in the1500, 5th in the 400 and 6th in the 800 metres in the T54 class. He took part in the marathon but did not finish. It was a far cry from London where he won 3 track gold medals plus the marathon. He made an announcement after the Rio 800, saying: “The sport has evolved over the last four years and I’m just not good enough”. In a longer statement on Twitter, he said: “Representing my country means everything to me and I want to perform at my ultimate best always, but it has not happened at this Paralympics. I am deeply sorry. I have let my country and my team mates down”. It was therefore important that he got a proper send-off on Sunday
His plans are to have a holiday but then to go back into training “and see where I am at and if I feel ready for a marathon in the autumn I will do one”. While his tracks days are over we have not seen the last of him in the marathon.
I once talked to David about our respective families, he saw some common ground and concluded that we were distant cousins. I don’t usually boast but today it seems appropriate. Cousin David, I am proud of your achievements and wish you well for the future.
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