David Weir wins the T54 5000m as Aled Davies takes his second medal of the Games with gold in the F42 discus
While talk of the night was Oscar Pistorius’s surprise – and controversial – defeat in the T44 200m, host nation Britain almost doubled their Paralympic medal haul in athletics on the third day of action inside the London Olympic Stadium.
David Weir contested four events at the last Paralympics in 2008, winning gold in two of them. The wheelchair racer is once again tackling four events, and tonight in his first final of the 2012 Games he took gold, timing his finish to perfection in the T54 5000m.
Roared on by a capacity crowd, the 33-year-old hit the front as he came off the final bend to push clear of his rivals. He crossed the line in 11:07.65 to beat Australia’s Kurt Fearnley and Julien Casoli of France.
“I was in great form coming into this and everything I’ve done in the last year has been for this,” said Weir. “It was amazing out there, a dream come true. You can hear the noise all the way round, it’s scary at first, but you can block it out.
“I was confident coming into the final bend because I raced it well tactically,” added Weir, who will be in action tomorrow morning in the 1500m heats. “I’ve got a tough heat tomorrow but I feel more relaxed and confident now I’ve got the first race out the way. It was special to win in my home town.”
Weir’s win was the second British victory of the day. During the morning session, Aled Davies struck gold in the F42 discus to add to the bronze he won in the shot two days prior.
The 21-year-old’s opening throw of 45.31m would have been enough to win. But he improved by six centimetres in the third round before unleashing a throw of 46.14m on his final attempt to guarantee the title.
“It was a tough competition, but I dug deep,” said Davies, who entertained the crowd on his lap of honour. “It wasn’t going to be easy as there’s a lot of incredible athletes out there. I’m just speechless. It’s surreal. It hasn’t sunk in yet.
Along with the two gold medals won today, Britain also scooped three silver medals. Stef Reid produced the farthest jump of the F42/44 long jump final, but with it being a mixed category event it meant that points are assigned to each performance. The 4.38m achieved by Australia’s Kelly Cartwright – who has an above-knee amputation – gained 1030 points, while Reid’s Paralympic record of 5.28m was good enough for 1023 points.
Graeme Ballard vastly improved on his eight-place finish from the 2008 Paralympics in the T36 100m. Russian star Evgenii Shvetcov was a clear winner with a Paralympic record of 12.08 while Ballard took second in a close finish in 12.24.
Just minutes later Libby Clegg successfully defended her T12 100m silver medal, smashing her PB with a European record of 12.13. China’s Zhou Guohua – who set a world record of 11.91 in the heats – took the gold in 12.05.