Paralympic great David Weir CBE was crowned Athlete of the Decade 2010-2019 during Saturday’s star-studded Hall of Fame and Awards evening. David, affectionately known as the ‘Weir Wolf’, topped a public vote which also featured Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill and Sir Mo Farah as the other two shortlisted athletes.
The Wallington-born racer enjoyed a stunning decade which saw him claim four of his eight London Marathon titles, four Paralympic gold medals at London 2012, and yet more top honours at Commonwealth, World and European level.
It is a testament to the success of David Weir CBE that focusing our attention to the years 2010-19 gives a wealth of success to talk about – and yet only provides a part of his story. Those ten years include four London Marathon wins out of his total of eight titles, with two silvers and a bronze from the event also in this decade.
In his interview on stage with Katharine Merry, he recalled, “Seeing Marcel Hug in Tokyo brought all the memories flooding back. And it reminded me of the pressure of London. I dreamed of one gold medal – the marathon, and that’s what I trained for.
David Weir first met coach Jenny Archer at London’s Tooting Bec track when he was just eight years old. David made his Paralympic debut at Atlanta 1996 (aged 17). However, unimpressed by the experience he quit the sport soon after. But following seeing the success of the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games he decided to return to the sport and contacted Jenny for help.
Coming into the decade 2010-2019, the T54 wheelchair athlete had already established himself a s a formidable competitor on the track and roads. After another London Marathon title then came the London Paralympics. The medals came at 800m, 1500m, 5000m and marathon to provide a remarkable Paralympic performance. He told us:
“80,000 in the stadium was truly amazing. I didn’t think we’d fill the stadium but I remember waiting under the stands and saw even the top seating areas full and I knew it would be the best Paralympics ever. Just before the final of the 5k my heart rate was so high. I saw my friends and started welling up and then I knew I had to get a gold medal for the people who paid for the tickets and were watching me.
More medals would keep coming at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games of 2014, IPC World Championships of 2015, and IPC European Championships of 2016.
I was meant to retire after 2012 but…I’m back to the marathon. I love doing the road racing. I’ve got to thank Paula [Dunn] for supporting me. I hope to be going to the Paris Olympics just for the marathon.
Following London 2012, Jenny Archer and David also created the Weir Archer Academy – a wheelchair racing athletics club providing training opportunities and equipment for new and existing athletes.
David told Katharine in his interview: “The reason I am carrying on is to push the sport to new levels and watch the next crop of athletes coming through. We’re developing and nuturing the next generation of wheelchair racers. I want it to grow throughout the country and I want to be an ambassador for this great sport that I’ve been in since I was 8 years old.”
The Athlete of the Decade winner was decided by public vote between Jessica Ennis-Hill, Mo Farah and David Weir.
To go up against Mo and Jess I never thought I had a hope in hell, I’m thankful for everyone who voted and everyone who supported me on social media.
Photo by Mark Shearman