Fast and furious Weir re­fuses to be held back

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

OUT­SPO­KEN and fast, wheel­chair rac­ing leg­end David Weir is aim­ing to deepen his mark on the Rio Par­a­lympics with more medals. The 37-year-old, known as “Weir­wolf”, has six Par­a­lympics golds and a host of records, in­clud­ing be­ing the first man to fin­ish a wheel­chair mile in un­der three min­utes.

Born with a spinal de­for­mity that has kept him con­fined to a wheel­chair since birth, he thought about go­ing into wheel­chair bas­ket­ball but there were no teams near his home.

“I re­mem­ber watch­ing the Lon­don Marathon wheel­chair race and think­ing, ‘I want to try that’. I en­tered the Lon­don mini-marathon when I was eight, but didn’t have a rac­ing wheel­chair, so I raced in a stan­dard day chair. I think I im­pressed ev­ery­one, in­clud­ing my­self.”

Bri­tish athletics great Se­bas­tian Coe, now the IAAF pres­i­dent, hailed Weir as a “phe­nom­e­nal ath­lete” after he added the four golds to the two he won in Bei­jing in 2008 at the Lon­don Par­a­lympics in 2012.

He is en­tered in five events in Rio but has ad­justed his pro­gram from Lon­don, ditch­ing the 5000 me­tres for the 400m and round­ing it off with the marathon.

He will also com­pete in the 800m, the 1500m – he is the twotime de­fend­ing cham­pion in each event – and the 4x400m re­lay.

“In Lon­don I put a tar­get on my back but I’ve not done that here,” he told The Guardian.

“It will be my last Par­a­lympics and I just want to medal.

“If I come away with a medal I’ll be happy. My coach is telling me that I’m quicker and faster than I’ve ever been, so that gives me a lot of con­fi­dence. I don’t put pres­sure on my­self by say­ing I’m go­ing to go and win five.”

Weir is also not afraid to tackle the au­thor­i­ties when he feels that they have wronged him.

When his coach Jenny Archer was over­looked for the UK Athletics head wheel­chair rac­ing coach job in 2013, he re­fused to sign a con­tract with them which ef­fec­tively cut off his fund­ing.

“They just didn’t re­spect what she’s done over the years,” Weir told The Daily Tele­graph at the time.

“They brought a wheel­chair rac­ing coach from Aus­tralia who’s not been in­volved in wheel­chair rac­ing for a num­ber of years. They had no re­spect for what we’ve done for the last 10 years in wheel­chair rac­ing.”

– AN­GELIQUE Ker­ber reached the US Open quar­ter-fi­nals on Septem­ber 4, which left Ser­ena Wil­liams need­ing to reach the fi­nal to have a chance of re­tain­ing the world num­ber one spot.

Ker­ber de­feated Pe­tra Kvi­tova 6-3, 7-5 to pile the pres­sure back on to the Amer­i­can, who is look­ing to break St­effi Graf’s record of 186 weeks as the world num­ber one.

If Ker­ber reaches the fi­nal, then Wil­liams must win the ti­tle to stay on top of the pile.

“When I was a kid, of course I was dream­ing of win­ning Slams and be­ing one day No 1, and now it can hap­pen,” said Ker­ber.

“But I’m try­ing to not put pres­sure on my­self, be­cause I know I have to win a few more matches to reach the No 1.”

Ker­ber will face Italy’s Roberta Vinci for a spot in the semi-fi­nals.

Mean­whle, Ser­ena, the cur­rent world num­ber one, notched another record in her cel­e­brated ca­reer on Septem­ber 3, pass­ing Martina Navratilova for the most Grand Slam wins by a woman, with 307. The vic­tory, a 6-2, 6-1 thrash­ing of Swe­den’s Jo­hanna Lars­son, also brought her in line with Roger Fed­erer, the men’s leader, for the over­all vic­to­ries mark. –

Photo: EPA

David Weir Britain cel­e­brates win­ning gold in the men’s 800-me­tre T54 fi­nal at the Lon­don 2012 Par­a­lympic Games.

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