Double gold for David

One man, 48 hours, two gold medals. The stats speak for themselves and the man is David Weir.

Weir raised the roof in the Olympic Stadium on Sunday night when he raced to victory in the T54 5000m and proudly announced “that was the one I wanted”.

He looked no less determined when he took to the track again tonight to try to defend the T54 1500m title he won in Beijing four years ago.

And the 33 year old Londoner delivered again. China’s Liu Yang took the race out hard from start, with Thailand’s Saichon Wahoram in second. But Weir was just behind, looking ominously dangerous in third place.

He was content to sit there until the last 350m, then hit the front and headed for home with a devastating sprint. By the 200m mark he had established clean air between himself and the desperately chasing pack.

Pushing hard to the end, he delivered the now familiar double-handed salute as he crossed the line in 3:12.09 to make it two wins from two events.

But Weir hasn’t finished yet.  He returns to action tomorrow (Wednesday) at 10:25 for the heats of the T54 800m – the other event he won in Beijing – and he goes in the Marathon on Sunday.

“I was just thinking of winning, that was the only thing going through my mind,” he said. “The crowd just lifts you, it gives you that little bit extra that lifts you across the line.

“I’ll do my best to win another two golds,” he added. “I’ve been training for this for the last seven years, when I heard the announcement that the Games were coming to London.

“I know my speed is so good at the moment. It shows that all the endurance work I’ve put in and the speed over the last few months has paid off.

“This is the blue riband event and I’ve won it twice now. I’m glad I’ve just got two laps tomorrow and not 12 and half in the 5k.”

There were also silver and bronze medals on the track for Great Britain tonight, for two first-time Paralympians – a silver in the T36 400m for Paul Blake and a bronze in the T13 1500m for David Devine.

And another stunning night of action for Britain’s athletes ended with Olivia Breen, Bethy Woodward, Katrina Hart and Jenny McLoughlin winning bronze in the 4x100m T35-38 Relay.

Devine set the ball rolling by taking bronze in the T13 1500m.  The 20 year old Liverpudlian took them on 400m out. His move to the front of the field was met by a deafening roar around the Olympic Stadium.

His lead was short-lived as David Korir of Kenya and Tunisia’s Abderrahim Zhou both went round the Briton and went on to battle it out for gold. The Tunisian took the spoils in a T12 world record 3:48.31, with Korir setting a T13 world record 3:48.84.

But Devine hung in doggedly to bring home the bronze and with it a T12 European record of 3:49.79.

Devine, who goes again in the T12 800m final tomorrow (Wednesday), said he was pleased to medal after having to rely on a fastest losers spot to progress from the heat to the final.

“I’m really happy to get a medal after what happened in the heat. I knew I could win a medal, but my confidence was a bit dented after the heat,” he said.

“I’d planned to step it up with between 250m to go and 100m to go but I just couldn’t help it when the bell went and the crowd just lifted me, I think I went too quick then, I had to slow down.

“Tonight I just got beaten by two better athletes. It was unbelievable out there. I think I had around 30 friends and family out there and I didn’t want anyone to pass me on the home straight.”

Moments later it was Steve Morris’ time to take centre stage in the T20 1500m. The Cardiff athlete, another first-time Paralympian, contented himself with hanging at the back of the pack for the opening kilometre as Ukraine’s Viacheslav Khrustalev tried to take the sting out of the field.

The 23 year old British athlete moved steadily up the field to fourth 400m out, but the pace quickened dramatically on the last lap and he had to settle for sixth place. Gold went to Iran’s Peyman Nasiri Bazanjani.

Morris who stepped up from 800m to 1500m less than a year ago, said he will be back stronger in Rio in 2016.

“It was difficult out there. The first couple of laps felt easy and the last 200m was very hard,” he said.  “I’m sorry I didn’t get a medal but I’ll come back stronger in four years time in Rio.

“I only stepped up to 1500m from 800m in the last ten months and I gave it my best shot.”

Seventeen year old Jamie Carter found the pace a little bit too hot to handle in his first Paralympic Games final.

Just hours after racing the heats, the Market Rasen teenager, who had only tried the sport for the first time two years ago, came home eighth in the T34 200m final. Gold went to Tunisia’s Walid Ktila in a world record 27.98.

“I don’t know how to describe how I feel after that,” said Carter. “That crowd is amazing. It’s the best way to make your Games debut, at your home Paralympics.

“The crowd got louder and louder when I was geeing them up and I wasn’t expecting that. I can go home saying I’m a Paralympic finalist at my first Games.

“This is the first time I’ve put ParalympicsGB kit on and been part of the ParalympicsGB team, and everyone’s been really supportive of each other so it’s been great.”

Another first-time Paralympian, Paul Blake, really got the crowd going as he took silver in the T36 400m. Blake, who lives in Dorchester and trains at the University of Bath, went into the final as world champion but in a strong and experienced field that included all of the medallists from Beijing four years ago.

Running in lane five, the 22 year old Briton refused to let Russia’s Evgenii Shvetcov, the 100m gold medallist running in lane six, make a decisive break away from him or let Ukraine’s Roman Pavly in lane four overhaul him.

The pair tried to get away Blake but he hung in doggedly, matching them stride for stride.  As the stagger unwound on the final bend, the Russian edged a few strides ahead. Blake gave it everything, roared on by a packed Olympic stadium, but couldn’t close the gap.

He took silver in a personal best 54.22, with Shvetcov winning gold in a world record 54.22 to complete a 100m and 400m double, while Pavlyk added the 400m bronze to the one he won over 100m.

Afterwards Blake said having the crowd behind him was like having “a second pair of legs”.

He said: “I thought I could medal as long I could execute my race.

“I was so nervous, Rob (his coach Rob Ellchuk) told me to take in the crowd at the start and then concentrate on the first 200m, go out strong, not panic and try to stay between Shvetcov and Pavlyk, which I did.

“He told me to go through in 26s then try to stay loose and relaxed with a long stride and go after them.

Blake is due to return to action in the T36 800m. The final is on Thursday 6 September.

The women’s 4x100m T35-38 Relay quartet of Olivia Breen (from Liphook, Hampshire), Bethy Woodward (Ferndown, Dorset), Katrina Hart (Bath) and Jenny McLoughlin (Chepstow) rounded off a fantastic night by taking bronze behind Russia and China.

Woodward said: “We worked perfectly together as a team, we were really, really united and one after the other was just incredible. The crowd just brought us through I think.

“Olivia got off to an amazing start which got me in a good place, then I got Kat in a good place, and we got the bronze so that’s just incredible.”

Hart added: “I love that bend. I just absolutely went for it and I heard the crowd just roaring and it was incredible, amazing. It was touch and go on the last leg but we held them off so it’s great.”

McLoughlin said: “I wasn’t sure if we’d managed to get it, but when it came on the board that we’d got third I was over the moon. I just had to go for the line and we got the bronze so that’s fantastic.”

The GB quartet clocked a time of 56.08 to take bronze.

In the only field event of the evening to feature British athletes, Dan West, from Carrington, Nottingham finished seventh in the F34 Shot at his fifth successive Paralympic Games. His first throw, of 11.37m, was his best of the series, equaling his personal best.

Jonathan Adams, from Sudbury in Suffolk, making his Paralympic Games debut, came 14th with 9.84m on his third throw.

West said: “I equalled my PB there.  That distance won me the silver medal in the worlds two years ago. It was really good out there, a great atmosphere, and the best Games I’ve ever been to.

“I wish I could have thrown a bit further. At one point I didn’t think I’d make the top eight but that just shows how much Paralympic sport has moved on.

“It also makes me realise how special the medals that I’ve won before are. The Paralympics are still growing and people are finding new training techniques and coaching methods.

“As a team we’ve moved on no end, this is the best team I’ve ever been part of, and that’s due to Peter Eriksson.”

For more news from ParalympicsGB, head to www.paralympics.org.uk/gb.

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