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GB celebrate first Gold medal

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David Weir in action in the Bird's Nest


14 September 2008


The Union Jack was finalised raised for Dave Weir in the Bird’s Nest on Sunday night, ending a traumatic 24 hours following the T54 800m final held on Saturday evening.

Just an hour before the much anticipated medals ceremony, Weir returned to the track to race for a 10th time in seven days in the first round of his fourth event, the 1500m. Weir, who has won silver in 400m and bronze in the 5000m, qualified easily for the 1500m semi-finals, a second behind Thailand’s Prawat Wahoram in 3:09.53.

An hour later he received his 800m Gold medal and talked about the events since he learned that officials had ruled his 800m victory invalid and ordered the race to be re-staged.

Weir said: “I’m so happy to get my Gold medal. I’ve trained for four years for this and it’s the best feeling in the world. I came into the Games thinking I’d get a few more but I’ve been feeling rough all week so to get one is like a dream come true.

“When I was told that the protest had been made I was devastated. I knew that it would mean a re-run and with the amount of races I was already doing, I would have had to race the 800m again on the same day as my 1500m semi-final.”

The judges’ decision was prompted by a protest from Australia on behalf of Kurt Fearnley who finished second. He had started in lane two but complained he’d been put in the wrong lane.

Australia withdrew the protest this morning and the Jury of Appeal confirmed that the original result would stand.

“I was angry and disappointed as I felt the protest was wrong,” said Weir. “In 800m wheelchair races the first three lanes are considered the best so Kurt actually had a better lane. But Kurt was behind the decision to withdraw the protest which was good sportsmanship.

“I didn’t sleep much last night and when I was told at 11.00am this morning that the protest had been withdrawn I was pleased, but it felt a bit strange. Even on the medal rostrum it felt weird, but a good weird, and I’m just happy to get my gold medal.”

Brian Alldis suffered his second bit of bad luck when part of his chair came loose affecting his ability to steer rounds the bends. He finished sixth in his heat in 3:20.28. Alldis went out of the 5000m when his glove fell apart in the heats.

“I’ve not had much luck really,” he said. “My aim was to make the final but my compensator came loose. That affected my race plans a bit.

“I’m sad not to make the final. All I can do is look ahead to the marathon.”

Earlier Shelly Woods finished fifth in the T54 800m final just two days after taking bronze in the re-run 5000m. Woods smashed her personal best by two seconds to clock 1:50.03 nearly five seconds behind the world record-breaking winner Chantal Petitclerc of Canada who raced 1:45.19.

“I feel like I’m going faster and faster each round,” said Woods. “My aim in this event was to make the final. Now I’m really looking forward to the 1500m.”

Woods is back tomorrow for the 1500m heats at 09.13, while Weir gets just 12 hours rest before he races in the semi-finals tomorrow at 09.30 local time.