2012 Paralympics: Huge crowds cheer David Weir to victory

 
David Weir Crowds packed into The Mall to watch David Weir win a fourth gold medal at the London 2012 Games

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Thousands of spectators have lined the route of the wheelchair marathon through central London to cheer GB's David Weir to a fourth gold medal at the Games.

He said the support from the sun-baked crowd on the final day of the Games had been "amazing the whole way through".

Team-mate Shelly Woods took the silver in the women's race, as GB cemented third place in the medals table.

Coldplay will perform at the closing ceremony from 20:30 BST.

The event will end what has been the most successful event in Paralympic history.

Start Quote

I've never known a summer like it”

End Quote Hugh Robertson Sports minister

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 live on the final day of London 2012, organising committee chairman Lord Coe said: "It has been fantastic. We wanted to raise the bar at the Olympics and I am as proud as everyone at being a part of a team that has unquestionably raised the bar at the Paralympics.

"We get Paralympics sport in this country. I never really doubted that the Paralympic Games would be anything other than a show-stopper."

The Park was closed at 14:30 BST and people with tickets for the last football and rugby matches were ushered into their respective venues.

Those with closing ceremony tickets will not be allowed into the Park until 17:30 BST.

Oscar Pistorius Pistorius, nicknamed "the Blade Runner", won gold in the final race at the Stadium

In a fitting finale to the track and field competition on Saturday, South Africa's Oscar Pistorius - famously known as the "Blade Runner", and one of the faces of the Games - won gold in the the T44 400m.

After the race, the 25-year-old said: "This is one of the most amazing competitions I've ever been a part of, it's been a privilege to be here.

"I think everybody's perceptions of disabled sport has changed."

Channel 4 revealed more than four million people tuned in to watch Pistorius cruise to gold, peaking at 4.2 million during the race.

Targets surpassed

On Sunday, Brazil's Tito Sena won the T46 marathon, while Alberto Suarez of Spain took the gold in the T12 event, breaking his own world record with a time of 2:24:50.

At the scene

Thousands of spectators turned out for the wheelchair marathon, one last chance to see athletes in action as the summer of Olympic and Paralympic sport finally draws to a close.

Many were dressed in GB shirts and they draped union jack flags over the security barriers lining the route near the finish line on The Mall, the scene reminiscent of the cycling, race walk and other London 2012 events which took place on the same streets.

Huge cheers went up when the leading pack - which included GB's David Weir on his way to his fourth gold of the Games - passed by. But enthusiastic applause and flag waving also greeted the lone athletes trailing some five or 10 minutes behind.

Charina Marsden from west London turned out with her teenage daughters Kelly and Melissa. ''This summer has been a once in a lifetime opportunity and we have made the most of it,'' she said.

Meanwhile, Malcolm and Jan Spillard travelled from Solihull to take in the event and are staying to cheer on Monday's parade of athletes. ''I'm a great lover of atmosphere and this has had it all,'' Mr Spillard, 63, said.

The crowds then swelled to watch Weir, nicknamed "The Weirwolf of London", add a fourth gold medal to his London 2012 haul.

The 33-year-old's triumph, after 5,000m, 1500m and 800m victories, means he matches Sarah Storey as Britain's most successful athlete at the Games.

After securing four wins out of four, he said: "It's a dream come true.

"I did have lots of dreams of winning four gold medals but I think everybody has those dreams. I knew I was capable of doing it."

Competitors in the men's and women's marathons started and finished in The Mall, completing one short and three long loops during the 26.2-mile race through central London.

One spectator on the route near The Mall said the race was the culmination of six weeks of wonderful sport, and that the Paralympics had "taken it up another notch".

"It's been so good being part of the atmosphere."

Weir and Woods would have both needed to secure gold for ParalympicsGB to overtake Russia for second in the medals table.

But Sunday's result gave the team third spot, with a tally of 120, including 34 golds.

Ceremony sold out

Thrilled at winning the silver medal, Woods said: "I can't describe how great it feels. All the hard work is worth it. A silver in London is just unbelievable."

On Saturday, popular swimmer Ellie Simmonds' loss of her S6 100m freestyle title to USA's Victoria Arlen, despite recording a personal best, saw the 17-year-old finish the Games with a haul of two gold medals, a silver and a bronze.

"I'm quite emotional," she told 5 live on Sunday. "I'm sad it's ending but I'm looking forward to the closing ceremony and looking back at what I've achieved - I'm surprised at what I've achieved."

She added: "I swam the best I could and to come away with personal bests in every event is brilliant."

Once Sunday's sports have concluded, the closing ceremony will bring the curtain down on what has been one of the most successful Paralympics in the event's history.

Organisers have sold some 2.7 million Paralympic tickets - beating targets by 200,000 and predicted sales by £10m.

Paralympics coverage online

Natasha Baker, Paralympic torch,  Arnaud Assouman

Sports minister Hugh Robertson said: "The way the British public has taken it to their heart has just been great. I've never known a summer like it."

The UK's papers on Sunday reflected on what the Observer called a sporting "summer in a million".

"Two sporting extravaganzas, a record-breaking medal haul for Britain, disabled sport showcased as never before… no wonder even the Aussies say it was better than Sydney," said the Independent.

The 70,000 Games volunteers were hailed by the Sunday Express, which said: "Unfailingly cheerful, polite and helpful, [they] not only made the Games a success, but restored pride in some good, old-fashioned British values."

Stars due to perform at Sunday's sold-out ceremony include Jay-Z and Rihanna.

The live broadcast of the ceremony is due to start at 20:30 BST and organisers hope it will finish by 23:00 BST.

British stars of the Olympics and Paralympics will then celebrate their success during a victory parade through the streets of London on Monday.

 

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 101.

    And lets not forget to thank all those 'other' people that normally remain invisible - until they incur our ire! I'm talking about those in transport, roads everywhere else who really got into the spirit and worked equally hard as the volunteers to be helfpful and make the whole thing work. Without them the would all have fallen apart. A heartfelt BRAVO to you too!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 100.

    A real 'lasting legacy' from these games would be if it made us turn off in droves from dreary 'reality TV', overpaid, non-entity 'slebs' and the drunken histrionics of empty-headed rock / film 'royalty' and demanded that TV and the papers showcase real talent and hard work.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 99.

    I was amazed how much the Paralympics felt like the Olympics. Same packed stadiums and enthusiastic crowd, and similarly inspiring performances. Rather than be forgotten, there were numerous events in the Paralympics I thought could hold their own as part of the Olympics. 'Wheelchair' 5000m and T44 100m were just as good as their able-bodied alternatives and 'blind' football was even better!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 98.

    Re. 92 and 93, 9000 places have been reserved for Games Makers to attend the parade as spectators. Additionally, it appears that the athletes have asked that whereever they are today, Games Makers should wear their uniform for one last time to give everyone a chance to thank them.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 97.

    Congrats to them all. They are all winners as they were all there for their country. They lifted the UK spirits like nothing else has done. The only down side was that having covered the Olympics the BBC couldn't do the Paralympics and those darn adverts really grate plus the coverage was not as wide spread. Hopefully now people realize there is more than football in this world of sport.

 

Comments 5 of 101

 

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