Fast and furious Weir refuses to be held back
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. –
David Weir Britain celebrates winning gold in the men’s 800-metre T54 final at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.