Wallington’s David Weir won the New York wheelchair marathon for the first time on Sunday.
Weir, forced to miss the event through illness or injury in the previous three years, edged away from Japan’s Masazumi Soejima in a thrilling finish to win in one hour, 37 minutes, 29 seconds.
Defending champion Kurt Fearnley, from Australia, and this year’s London Marathon winner Josh Cassidy, from Canada, were early leaders, but 31-year-old Weir was never far away.
He and Soejima, runner-up last year, broke away around the 18-mile park and the pair went wheel to wheel going into Central Park.
In the push to the line, Weir clinched victory by two seconds, winning the $15,000 first price plus a $1,000 bonus for clocking inside 1:38.00.
“I knew Soejima is a good coaster downhill so I knew I would have to wait and wait and wait,” said three-times world champion Weir.
“My arms were so heavy I didn’t think I would get to the finish line.
“I am so happy two win. It means a lot to me.
“My new racing chair has been great and my final preparations have been perfect, putting in the miles around Richmond Park every day.
“The key was staying with Kurt Fearnhill on the uphill stages at the start. I have done so much hill work for this race and it has paid off.”
Next up for Weir is the World Championships in New Zealand in January and victory was the perfect way to celebrate the renewal of his podium level funding from UK Athletics.
He added: “I want to thank all the people around me who have helped me to get back to where I belong, especially my coach Jenny Archer, my fiancé Emily and my family.
“I know that this win will give me a real boost now building towards the IPC World Championships in January.”
Belgrave Harriers’ Justin Chaston, now based in the United States, clocked a personal best 2:33.48 in finishing 82nd out of more than 40,000 runners in the main marathon.
Chaston was ninth over-40 veteran with Serpentine’s Hendrik Zietsman (2:41.43) 16 in that section. Stragglers’ Justin West clocked a lifetime best 2:42.59 in finishing 175th overall.