David Weir is to help carry the British flag at the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympics this evening, after another astonishing performance to win gold in the T54 marathon, a race he described as his “toughest” yet.
Weir will carry the flag jointly with cyclist Sarah Storey – who also won four golds at the games – and he predicted that the ceremony would be a “tearjerker”.
After his one-second marathon victory over Marcel Hug of Switzerland, Weir said he had been “absolutely dying” after five miles, and had been forced to drink an “energy shot” he had been intending to take after 16 miles.
But Weir’s fourth gold of the games was not the last medal won by the ParalympicsGB team, with Shelly Woods later winning silver in the women’s marathon.
Her silver took the final ParalympicsGB medal tally to 120, with 34 golds, 43 silvers and 43 bronze medals. Britain finished third in the medal table, just one gold behind Russia, although with more medals overall.
Woods, expected to be one of the stars of the games for ParalympicsGB, had faced the disappointment of failing to win a medal on the track, but said that winning the marathon silver felt “absolutely amazing”.
She said: “I am so proud of myself. I felt a little bit like Rocky. I kept getting bashed down and I just kept jumping up for more. Today I jumped up some more.
“It was one of the hardest marathons I have ever done. It is something I will remember forever.”
She said the final sprint had been tough. “Sprinting after 26 miles? Oh man, it hurts.”
Weir paid tribute to the “awesome” crowd. “I’ve never seen that for the whole race. When I couldn’t feel my push rims, they were getting me through. My whole body was tingling.”
He also revealed that he hadn’t known where the finishing line was, and so had carried on for several yards before finally realising he had won the gold.
Weir was watched by his parents, about “50 or 60” supporters from near his south London home, and his pregnant girlfriend, although he added: “I just hope she doesn’t give birth.”
Despite his exhaustion, he said it would take him only about a week to recover, although, he added: “That depends on how many beers I have tonight.”
He also said he was delighted that Paralympic sport had featured on the front and back pages of national newspapers during the games, and had “got the recognition that it should do”, something he said he had been “banging on about” for years.
And he said he would be working to encourage more disabled children to take up wheelchair racing.
He added: “I want to see more wheelchair racers going to the Rio games.”
9 September 2012