The six-time Paralympic gold medallist can’t wait to get his season started but says he hopes he is competing on a level playing field after news of Polish wheelchair racer Tomasz Hamerlak’s four-year doping ban
David Weir is looking forward to a busy year as he gets set to go for a record-breaking seventh victory at the Virgin Money London Marathon in April and then aims to secure further Paralympic success in Rio in September.
Raring to get back to racing, the 36-year-old says he took a shorter than usual break after the IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha and is encouraged by what he is achieving in training.
“I realise at my age you can’t really have too much time off anymore and I just felt the hunger to get back straight away and train,” said Weir, who had the end of his season disrupted through illness.
The six-time Paralympic gold medallist last won the London Marathon in 2012 – the same year that he claimed four of his Paralympic victories – and since then he has been eyeing a record seventh win over 26.2 miles in the British capital.
“I just want to do the best I possibly can,” said Weir (pictured above winning in 2008), speaking at a media event for this year’s marathon which takes place on April 24. “I’d love to win it again and win it more after. I’ll give it my best shot like I do every year.
“I can’t really use London to judge how well I might do at the Paralympics,” he added. “Even though I won the London Marathon in 2012 and did well at the Games, I don’t judge it like that.
“Rio is September so you have got a lot of things before that. I always try and peak for two parts of the year.
“Then we’ve got a busy time afterwards with Berlin, Chicago and New York (marathons) so it’s a busy year for us wheelchair racers. There’s also the Boston Marathon before London, so very busy.”
When it comes to which events Weir might contest at the Games, he says the marathon is definitely set to feature but that track events are yet to be confirmed.
“I’d like to see the schedule first and then I can make my decision,” he said. “I’ve also been asked to do a few relays with the 4x400m squad this year. If I can help the team then I will do it.”
And Weir, who also claimed two sprint medals at the 2004 Games in Athens as well as his four Beijing 2008 medals and four London 2012 golds, hasn’t completely ruled out continuing for another four years for further Paralympic competition in Tokyo, either.
After an initial “no” with a smile when asked if Tokyo 2020 is in his sights, the Jenny Archer-coached athlete added: “I might do the marathon in Tokyo, I might not. It depends if they want to select me for just one event. Do I really want to go and do it? I don’t know.
“I definitely want to go up to London 2017 on the track.”
Whether he continues to Tokyo 2020 or not, one thing is for sure – whenever Weir races he hopes it is on a level playing field.
Earlier this month it was announced that Polish wheelchair racer Tomasz Hamerlak had received a four-year doping ban after he returned an adverse analytical finding for stanozolol metabolites in a urine sample provided last July.
When announcing the ban, the IPC said in a statement: “The principle of strict liability applies to anti-doping matters. Therefore, each athlete is strictly liable for the substances found in his or her sample, and that an anti-doping rule violation occurs whenever a prohibited substance (or its metabolites or markers) is found in his or her bodily specimen, whether or not the athlete intentionally or unintentionally used a prohibited substance or was negligent or otherwise at fault.”
Hamerlak, who won Paralympic T54 marathon bronze at Athens 2004, had been one of Weir’s regular rivals over the marathon distance.
“At the end of the day, they always say the same thing – that it got contaminated,” commented Weir. “But they can say what they want – he has got a four-year ban and it must have been something bad for him to have got a four-year ban.
“It’s scary really. You hope it wouldn’t go into Paralympic sports but obviously it has. Maybe I’ve just been a bit naive and stupid.
“It upsets me because you don’t want to question anyone,” he added. “You want to hope that you are racing people on the same level playing field as you.
“I just hope that no one else is cheating but at the end of the day, I just do what I’ve got to do and I know I’m clean and I’m 100% just me – that’s my ability out there, nothing else.”