Wheelchair racer outsprints Marcel Hug on The Mall for historic victory
David Weir powered past his big rival Marcel Hug to win a record seventh London Marathon title on Sunday.
The British wheelchair racer clocked 91:06 to beat Switzerland’s Hug by a second.
The triumph came in Weir’s 18th consecutive London Marathon appearance and many years after he struck gold in the Mini London Marathon.
Weir turned the tables spectacularly on the in-form Hug, too. The Swiss athlete won his second London Marathon title 12 months ago and went on to win every World Marathon Majors race in 2016, plus Paralympics gold in Rio.
In comparison, Weir has not been in as good shape and had a disappointing Paralympics, but the 37-year-old has been determined to win a seventh title in London – beating Tanni Grey-Thompson’s six wins – and managed it this weekend.
Weir said: “It hasn’t sunk in yet. It’s the first time I’ve felt comfortable in years. It’s been a tough four months personally. I’ve had a lot of background problems in my personal life. It’s been tough, especially after Rio. I needed to focus and sort out my head. I knew I had it in the last corner. All I was thinking was ‘win, win, win’.
“In recent years, I’ve been second, third, fourth and thought it was time to stop. But I knew my speed was still there. I’ve been working on big finishes. You have to be mentally strong.”
Weir didn’t just have Hug to beat in the closing stages either, as he explained: “There were 15 at the last corner. That shows that the London Marathon has done amazing things for wheelchair racing.”
Runner-up Hug said: “It was really tough again. I’m very disappointed but I’m going to be back in London again for the World Champs this summer. I’ve had a couple of tussles with David Weir over the years but he was just too strong for me today.”
The big question is, will Weir now retire or carry on? He said: “I’ve got a few meetings this week with my family, with my coach, to talk about my future. I’m definitely not continuing on the track but I’ll look at it in the fall and hope to be back next year.”
In the elite women’s race, Switzerland’s Manuela Schär added victory in London to her Boston Marathon win of less than a week earlier.
Clocking 99:57 she dominated the race, which was missing USA’s four-time winner Tatyana McFadden after recent surgery, to beat Amanda McGrory with 1:44:34.
Britain’s Jade Jones was fifth in 1:51:46 after having also raced recently in Boston, where she clocked a PB of 1:41:44.
» See the April 27 edition of AW magazine for full coverage of the London Marathon