There were great omens in Paralympic year as, for the first time in five years, British athletes claimed a double victory in both the men’s and women’s wheelchair races. On Sunday, it was David Weir and Shelly Woods, Britain’s leading two wheelchair racers on road and track, having first won the double in 2007.
Remarkably, ten years ago it was Weir, winning for the first time, and then Tanni Grey-Thompson, the athlete who inspired the Londoner to take up the sport. In 2007, Weir and Woods won a double for Britain.
On Sunday, Weir’s sixth London Marathon victory saw him equal Grey-Thompson’s record haul. It was a cat and mouse affair, with a group of seven racers slip-streaming until they reached Big Ben in Parliament Square.
Weir got himself into an inside position along Birdcage Walk and then powered away in the final 150metres. Weir, 32, has admitted there will be no greater year in his career, and he must deliver. He also defends two Paralympic gold medals on the track this year.
Under pressure here with the strongest possible field – barring Australian rival Kurt Fearnley – Weir was cool and clinical. He has been this way now for over two years in the form of his life.
Weir, who won that first title back in 2002, said:
“Winning today feels as good as the first time. And it didn’t rain which is a bonus. It was very tough. I tried to break from the pack after Tower Bridge with Marcel Hug, but it was too windy. Then I just had to sit in the pack and work hard for the 400m. It was a fast start, very tough, very tactical.”
“I feel in great shape, had a really great winter, no shoulder injuries, and this is the lightest and the strongest I have ever been. It’s a great privilege to be up there with Tanni. She is a great role model and she was the inspiration for me doing this sport. I don’t know how many more I will do….”
Weir meant marathons. And competing at the Games event in September, the last event of the summer’s giant sporting activities, could, and should, if it transpires in Weir’s favour, see him feted as one of Britain’s great athletes.
Weir’s Swiss rival Marcel Hug, who was second, explained:
“It was very windy out there today. The first 3 miles were fine, but then the wind seemed to cool from any and every direction.
“I know it wasn’t a really fast time today but I think everyone realised it was going to be a race between us and a race against the clock.
“I always thought I could get a top three place, so coming second is what I am happy with. The race was though, I had David in my sights, but the wind made it difficult to push hard. Hopefully I can be back again next year to go one better.”
The surprise package in the wheelchair race was Woods, who dominated the women’s race from start to finish, both tactically and technically. The Blackpool athlete’s victory by almost four minutes has laid the marker down for the Paralympic Games in September, on a similar course here in London.
Woods, 25, won her second title.
“I am happy to win as it was my first race this season,” she said.
“I haven’t raced since New York last year. It was a tough field. Anybody could have won. I tried not to look back, stay strong and keep a good rhythm. I didn’t think until 25 miles I was able to win.”
Congratulations to both David and Shelly from everyone at Maximise Potential!
FURTHER ARTICLES AND RESOURCES
- Click here to view a range of inspiring articles and resources about David Weir
- Click here to listen to a motivating interview with David Weir
- Click here to view more inspiring paralympic sport articles and resources
Article Source: telegraph.co.uk