David Weir, the six-time Olympic gold medalist, executed a superb race to win his eighth London Marathon two Sundays ago.
Ever since I’ve watched the London Marathon on television, I have rooted for Weir in the T54 men’s wheelchair race.
His record at London alone is phenomenal. He has raced nineteen times in a row. Apart from the eight wins, he has placed in the top three nine times. His two other performances were fourth and fifth. He also won the London Mini Wheelchair Marathon seven times before he entered the full distance race1.
His consistency at the event is unquestionably amazing, especially when you consider that Weir has had to face conditions ranging from heat waves to torrential downpours. His competition has included many different names from North America and Europe. It is often said that, like the able-bodied races, any number of competitors could win each year. But unlike the main events, many of the races come down to a sprint finish. He has to be sharp to any surges, and must push on when the time is right, when others cannot respond.
As Jessica Whittington eludes in this week’s Athletics Weekly2, his home city brings the best out of him. Although I myself have experienced inspired performances in my hometown, albeit on an amateur level, I believe his London Marathon record could easily put pressure on him.
He has overcome expectations by being an extremely strong athlete, mentally and physically. Granted, his arm muscles are more visible. But his long battle against depression reveals how persistent he has needed to be3.
The 38-year-old has not had the smoothest journey to success, but the legendary retired wheelchair racer Tanni Grey-Thompson suggested post-race that he could certainly win ten London Marathon titles. The point appears obvious. If Weir truly wants to win on the biggest stage of all again, he will. That is the greatest compliment to any athlete, and I agree with Tanni’s assessment.
I hope for the sake of the sport and for the country, his hunger triumphs over his depression. Like Mo, he is a national treasure, a living example of what a hard-working attitude and down-to-earth personality can accomplish.
1 According to race reports from the London Marathon.
2 Published on 26th April 2018. The article is entitled Great Eight For Weir.
3 Weir’s honesty about his struggles is outlined in The Telegraph article entitled David Weir reveals his battle with depression: ‘I wrote a letter to my kids saying I was going away and I was sorry’ .