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Weir Can’t Wait For Paralympic test

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5 September 2008




After becoming Britain’s most successful athlete at the IPC World Championships in Holland in 2006, wheelchair racer Dave Weir has set his sights on Paralympic success, with up to five medals at stake.

Weir won three golds and a silver in Assen in 2006 and now he can’t wait to get on the Bird’s Nest track to begin his pursuit of Paralympic glory.

“It’s been a long two years I’ve been waiting for this,” said Weir, who won a silver and bronze medal at the Paralympic Games in Athens four years ago. “This is my biggest opportunity to win a Paralympic title because I did so well at the World Championships. It is the biggest year of my career.”

Weir, who races in the T54 category, won medals at 100m and 200m in 2004, but is going for gold in the 400m, 800m, 1500m, 5000m and marathon in Beijing, a hectic schedule that will see him compete in 14 races over nine days.

“I know it seems crazy to a lot of people to do five but to me it seems normal,” he said. “I’m not sure if I can win five golds. I don’t know, but I’m going to try. I’m here to get one gold, and if I get more as well that will be a bonus. We’ll see.”

The 29-year-old from Surrey will competing at his third Paralympic Games having made his debut in Atlanta 12 years ago as a 17-year-old before giving up the sport for two years at the end of the 1990s. Inspired by Britain’s success in Sydney, he returned to win silver in the Athens 100m and bronze in the 200m.

Having won World Championship gold at 100m, 400m and 1500m he now sees the 400m and 1500m as his top events.

“I’ve been pushing really well in training,” said Weir, who arrived in Beijing from  the Paralympics GB training camp in Hong Kong. “I know I’ll be good over the 400 and 1500. The 5000 is always really testing and the 800 has been my bogus event – I don’t know why, I just can’t seem to get it right.

“The marathon is really just something to do at the end,” added the triple London Marathon wheelchair champion. “I only decided to do it two weeks ago. I mostly came here to do well on the track.”

Weir knows it won’t be easy, though, as he described the T54 class as “stonger than ever”. In particular, he will face the Australian favourite Kurt Fearnley over 1500m and 5000m, plus some strong Japanese and Chinese racers over the shorter distances.

“We could also get someone who’s unknown,” said Weir. “There could be someone who had an accident a year ago and found they were a natural wheelchair racer. People can come from nowhere.”

Weir may have an advantage over some of his opponents, however, as he has already competed in Beijing’s National Stadium, where the athletics events will start on Monday (8 September). He raced at the Beijing Open meeting in May, finishing first in the 5000m as he became the first British athlete to compete in the Bird’s Nest.

“The stadium was awesome,” he said. “It’s probably the best stadium I’ve ever raced in. The atmosphere was terrific. The track was fast too and I wasn’t even fully fit then. Now I’m 100 per cent fit so I should be even quicker.

“But I’m trying not to think ahead. I want to take each day as it comes. I’d rather wait until I’ve got the medals then think about it.”

For news updates on ParalympicsGB please visit www.paralympics.org.uk