02 September 2012
David Weir (Jenny Archer) raced to a memorable 5000m victory that set the stadium alight on day three of the athletics programme at the Paralympic Games.
Britain won three medals in the evening to go with their two in the morning for one of their most successful days of paralympic track and David Weir (Jenny Archer) won Britain’s fourth gold of the Games with a confident assured display to win the T54 5000m gold.
At the last Paralympics, he won the 800m and 1500m and was third in the 5000m but he looked the favourite here as he always kept in the right position, covering all the moves.
The race started fast with a 49.04 lap early on but the pace had slowed as Australian defending champion Kurt Fearnley led through 1000m in 2:15.03 even dropping to 60.70. The pace picked up briefly with a few 52 and a 50 lap before again slowing to 60 seconds. Over the last mile the temp oncreased to 51.54, 51.47 and then 49.12 but all the field were together and Weir was perfectly placed behind the leader. He had to accelerate hard on the final bend as he was in lane two and then he eased past down the straight to take gold in 11:07.65 to Fearnley’s 11:07.90. France’s Julien Casoli took bronze in 11:08.08 just edging Switzerland’s world record holder Marcel Hug. The last lap took just 45.85 and the final kilometre 1:59.67.
Weir said, “I was in great form coming into this and everything I've done in the last year has been for this. It was amazing out there, a dream come true. You can hear the noise all the way round, it's scary at first, but you can block it out. I was confident coming into the final bend because I raced it well tactically. I've got a tough heat tomorrow but I feel more relaxed and confident now I've got the first race out the way. It was special to win in my home town.”
Even Usain Bolt was impressed, later tweeting: “Paralympics is where you find true champions.. All magnificent athletes. Talk about that 5000m just now.. Incredible”
In the T36 100m final Graeme Ballard (Steve Thomas) and Ben Rushgrove (Rob Ellchuck) gave Britain a double chance of medals. After a relatively disappointing heat in the morning, world record holder Ballard got a superb start and had no stumble like in the morning and he was slightly in the lead at halfway. He couldn’t quite hold off the Russian Evgenii Shvetcov who had set a Paralympic record of 12.11 in his heat and here improved that record to 12.08. Ballard kept his form to win silver in 12.24. Rushgrove was close to his best this year and finished sixth in 12.37.
Ballard, who was only eighth in this race in Beijing said, “China wasn't a good experience for me, but there were no Beijing thoughts in my mind at all today. It was a fantastic race. I'm a bit disappointed I didn't get gold but I couldn't have done any better. It was a really good race and I’m pleased with how I ran. The better man got the gold, but it was close.
"I got a bit of a fright this morning because I stumbled just at the start and I had to work hard to get my momentum back, but I was confident because my start is my strongest part. I’ve had a few ups and downs in my preparation but I’m really happy, I even thought I’d won gold at one point because the crowd was just amazing. That’s one of the best days of my life.”
T12 100m final Libby Clegg (Keith Antoine) was running with three other runners who had set world records in winning their heat and she was involved in an exciting race between the four fairly evenly matched competitors. World record holder Guohua Zhou couldn’t match her 11.91 from the heat but a 12.05 gave her a narrow win over Clegg, who set an European record to take the silver medal.
Clegg, whose brother James won a bronze medal just minutes before across at the swimming in the S12 butterfly said, “I couldnt have my little brother beating me! Tonight has been absolutely out of this world. It was amazing. I have never experienced anything like this before. I didn't expect this to happen, the profile of Paralympic sport has increased so much in the lead up to this and it's fantastic. I'm over the moon. It's great to see Paralympic athletics moving on.The winner Zhou is a fantastic athlete. It was a tough race. We executed the plan and came away with the silver. I'm extremely proud of us. It's a once in lifetime opportunity. I can't explain how I feel.”
In a very tight T37 100m final, Katrina Hart (Rob Ellchuck) was sixth but only 0.05 away from being a medallist. Jenny McLoughlin (Darrell Maynard) was seventh in 14.48.
There were also two representatives in the T44 100m final. 16 year-old Sophie Kamlish (Rob Ellchuk) ran close to her best and was a fine fifth in 13.98 whilst long jump silver medallist Stefanie Reid (Keith Antoine) was eighth in 14.25, outside the time she ran in the morning.