Gold for Paralympian a day after race
A multiple wheelchair champion told of his emotional torment after being denied a gold medal at the Paralympics only to have it reinstated the next day.
David Weir, 29, from Wallington, punched the air as he finished first in the 800m to win Britain’s first gold on the track in Beijing.
But officials later upheld an appeal from Australia over the muddled lane allocation in a decision described as “shocking” by Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson.
The race was set to be re-run until Kurt Fearnley, the second-placed athlete, asked for the protest to be withdrawn the next morning.
An emotionally drained Weir finally collected his first Paralympic gold, in his third Games, 24 hours later than scheduled.
He said: “I was angry and devastated, as I felt the protest was wrong. In 800m races, the first three lanes are considered the best, so Kurt actually had a better lane. But he was behind the decision to withdraw the protest, which was good sportsmanship.
“I didn’t sleep much the previous night and, when I was told the news at 11am on Sunday, I was pleased, but it felt a bit strange.
“Even on the medal rostrum it felt weird, but a good weird, and I’m just happy to get my gold medal.”
Weir, a part-time DJ, won another gold, a silver and a bronze after a grueling 14-race programme in Beijing.
Dr Brendan Hudson, the Mayor of Sutton, said: “On behalf of everyone in Sutton I’d like to send my warmest congratulations to David on his truly remarkable achievements and he still has the marathon to go.
“His performances have been all the more extraordinary as he has been suffering with a virus, without which I am confident he would have turned the silver and bronze medals into golds."