5th September 2021


[Photo credit – Job King]

David Weir brought the curtain down on ParalympicsGB’s athletics action with a fifth-place T54 marathon finish as JohnBoy Smith and Derek Rae also registered top-ten performances in Tokyo.

Weir (coach: Jenny Archer, club: Weir Archer Academy) was competing in his third event of the Games after racing the 1500m and 5000m whilst Smith (Christine Parsloe, Sutton & District) was making his Paralympic debut over 26.2 miles.

With Switzerland’s Marcel Hug and Yong Zhang of China quickly separating themselves from the rest of the field, Weir was part of a group alongside Brent Lakatos of Canada and American duo Daniel Romanchuk and Aaron Pike fighting for the bronze medal.

Ultimately it was Romanchuk who broke away to finish in third behind Hug, who took gold in 1:24:02 and Zhang in silver, with Lakatos in fourth and Weir edging out Pike for fifth in a season’s best of 1:29:45.

“Credit to them, they were on another level. I was pushing hard to stay with Brent in the first part of the race,” said Weir, the six-time Paralympic champion and marathon gold medallist at London 2012.

“We worked well with Aaron and Daniel on the last 10k or so but as soon as Daniel went with 2km to go, I knew I wasn’t going to catch him.

“I’ve gone under 1:30 which I haven’t done for a few years, so I’m pleased with that. I knew it would be quick at the front but I am disappointed because I thought I was going to get a bronze medal today.

“I tried my best, it just wasn’t quite enough today.”

It proved to be an impressive debut for Smith, who finished in tenth place in a time of 1:32:25 despite suffering some mechanical issues early on in the race.

He said: “My first 800m on the track was great but as I came out of the stadium on the ramp, I put a kick in and my gloves split in two, and then the sandpaper fell off for grip.

“Then I got damage to my wheel rim not too soon after. Physically I feel good but sometimes these technical and mechanical things happen.

“I’ve prepared the best I could do. It didn’t matter where I came in the race, I gave it my best. I put my heart and soul into getting to Tokyo, and I’ve enjoyed it, you’ve got to enjoy what you do.

“Whatever happens next, I can say at one time I was good enough to be pushing alongside the best in the world.”

Whilst Weir and Smith were in T54 action, Rae (Ron Morrison, Fife) was competing in the T46 event and was hoping to make personal amends after dropping out midway through the race in Rio five years ago.

A time of 2:47:04 meant the 36-year-old secured a season’s best, an impressive performance given his far-from-perfect Games build-up following an injury in June.

Li Chaoyan of China successfully defended his title with a time of 2:25:50, with AD Pires da Silva winning silver for Brazil and home favourite Tsutomu Nagata in third.

Rae said: “I ran pretty much the whole race on my own but the crowds pulled me through it, they were a great support. It’s been like that ever since we landed in Japan.

“We’ve been greeted by a warm welcome wherever we have been during these Games.

“I’m proud of myself and I’m proud of my support team because it was a challenge to get to that start line. At the beginning of June I had a setback when I had a stress reaction in my sacrum so I had to have a significant amount of time off my feet.

“After Rio, I’ve remained focused and grounded, and this was always the target. The setback in June is the way of the world, and it was unfortunate. The lows make the highs, higher.”

The British medallists (24):

Gold (9):

Aled Davies – Men’s F63 Shot Put

Jonathan Broom-Edwards – Men’s T64 High Jump

Hannah Cockroft – Women’s T34 100m and 800m

Sophie Hahn – Women’s T38 100m

Owen Miller- Men’s T20 1500m

Dan Pembroke – Men’s F13 Javelin

Andrew Small – Men’s T33 100m

Thomas Young – Men’s T38 100m

Silver (5):

Kare Adenegan – Women’s T34 100m and 800m

Sammi Kinghorn – Women’s T53 400m

Richard Whitehead – Men’s T61 200m

Libby Clegg, Jonnie Peacock, Ali Smith, Nathan Maguire – 4x100m Universal Relay

Bronze (10):

Hollie Arnold – Women’s F46 Javelin

Columba Blango – Men’s T20 400m

Olivia Breen – Women’s T38 Long Jump

Dan Greaves – Men’s F64 Discus

Harri Jenkins – Men’s T33 100m

Sammi Kinghorn – Women’s T53 100m

Maria Lyle – Women’s T35 100m and 200m

Jonnie Peacock – Men’s T64 100m

Hannah Taunton – Women’s T20 1500m