The athletics programme concluded in its traditional, and often emotional way with the marathon – the athletes finishing with a lap of the track in the Olympic Stadium.
And for David Weir (Weir Archer Academy, Jenny Archer) it was a particularly memorable day as it quite possibly marked the end of his incredible Paralympic career which has seen him finish on the podium 10 times since making his debut in 1996 at Atlanta.
It’s been a mixed Games for the ‘Weir Wolf’, but the marathon is easily his best event – after all, he’s won the London Marathon eight times since 2002 – so there was a lot to look forward to.
While gold and silver medals were decided early on, Weir was still in touch at 40km in a group of four battling it out for bronze. And it was only the final steep climb heading towards the stadium that settled it – as it had done in the fight for gold – and he eventually finished fifth in 1:29:45.
“Credit to them, they (top three) were on another level. I was pushing hard to stay with Brent (Lakatos) in the first part of the race. We worked well with Aaron (Pike) and Daniel (Romanchuk) 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,” said an emotional Weir after the race.
“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. But I tried my best, it just wasn’t quite enough today.”
Almost inevitably there was talk of retirement given his age – 42 – but he’s going to give it a few weeks before making any decisions. “To keep up with Marcel (the winner) looks like Mission Impossible,” he said. “But I have the London Marathon in a couple of weeks, so we’ll see. I have a few things in my mind,” he continued. “I’ll talk it over with my team and family.”
For teammate Johnboy Smith (Weir Archer Academy, Christine Parsloe), it was a frustrating race partly because of the conditions – wet yet again – and partly because of a mechanical issue and he finished 10th in 1:32:25.
“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, and then I got damage to my wheel rim not too soon after. Physically I feel good but sometimes these technical and mechanical things happen,” he explained.
“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.”
Up front Switzerland’s Marcel Hug looked in control for the entire distance and waited until 40km – at the base of the steep hill that decided the bronze – to make his move. Powering away over the closing stages he won in 1:24:02.
In closing our daily reports, to all the athletes, and their loved one, the coaches, officials, volunteers, clubs and schools – thank you for the part you have played in the journey to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics and helping to inspire the next generation.