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
    -3

    Comment number 61.

    Are we allowed to ask, and get an honest answer, how much this lot has cost us?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 60.

    glad it is all over, too much hype, far too much money wasted that could have been better used.
    -But it wouldn't have been would it it would simply have been thrown to the bankers and given away in tax cuts for the ultra rich like the other £250 Billion.

    At least the Olympics and Paralympics have brought a bit of light relief and recovered our own national flag from the Nuttcase Right

  • rate this
    -16

    Comment number 59.

    I'm pleased a lot of people have enjoyed the olympics. I'm please it all went very well for athletics enthusiasts.

    Now we just need a big national event for each and every hobby that everyone in the country follows. And equal spending on facilities and coverage of course.

  • rate this
    -23

    Comment number 58.

    At last all this Olympic rubbish is over..

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 57.

    The athletes have been outstanding. I'll miss the Games now they are at an end, but will be actively seeking out other para sporting events to watch and support. I hope there's a bigger place for disabled sport on TV - the demand is there and the sporting spectacle and achievements are truly world class. The Channel 4 coverage has been excellent, LEXI was incredibly useful. The Paralympics rock!

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 56.

    @47 - Yes - I'm sure it has cost a considerable amount of money - but the achievements by both Olympians and Paralympians has been outstaninding and - in these expectionally poor economic times - has at last made ME proud to be British !!!

    Go the WeirWolf !!!

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 55.

    Everything about the Olympic & Paralympic Games has been absolutely fantastic-something the whole country should be proud of. ALL the athletes are truly remarkable people and I hope they enjoyed taking part as much as we did watching you. The BBC had wonderful coverage but I think Channel 4 had too many "breaks" during their coverage. Good luck to all in the future especially those going to Rio.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 54.

    Jay z and rhianna?? Why??

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 53.

    i went to both the Oylmpics and Paralympics, and have to say the Paralympics just pipped it..amazing ..and what a shame there are still miserable ,humourless, dull people still badmouthing the Olympics off..its been a privilage to watch theses superathletes perform..makes me feel quite inadequate and i'm completely able bodied.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 52.

    well done he has demonstrated that he does not need the higher rate of DLA for getting around as he can propel himself for more than 200 meters unaided so will not be eligible for PIP next year ATOS are watching and all paralympians will be denied the new personal independence payments for mobility.Thanks mr Cameron the disabled in the uk are so happy thanks

  • rate this
    -24

    Comment number 51.

    guess what bbc ?? we are not all brainwashed... a complete waste of money.

  • rate this
    +12

    Comment number 50.

    I think London went above & beyond what they set out to achieve for both olympics and paralympics; well done to all involved :-)

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 49.

    @43.G Smith
    Re adverts, which ruins the coverage for me, I wrote to Channel 4 who confiirmed that they did not exceed their minutage!!!!!

    they provided 3 channels (HD & SD) showing the live action without any adverts (only 1 available on some freeview packages - freeviews "fault"). I don't think a commercial channel could have done more to provide uninterupted coverage

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 48.

    When we come back from yet another break and many paralympic adverts I'll tell you more...................

  • rate this
    -23

    Comment number 47.

    glad it is all over, too much hype, far too much money wasted that could have been better used.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 46.

    Well done David. You did the nation proud.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 45.

    The efforts of Weir and co have been incredible.

    The crowds have been amazing and supportive to athletes from all over the world. It helps that London is such a cosmopolitan city.

    Both the Para and Olympic Games have shown what British talent and organisation can achieve when given the money and tools to get the job done.

    My one gripe is about the C4 coverage, too much studio time.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 44.

    The man us amazing, totally amazing! The Paralympians have shown the world that they are not disabled, just different! No worse and no better than the able bodied athletes, but their equal. I am proud to be British as we have shown the world how it should be done. Never again should there be less coverage of these amazing men and women!
    We now need the Diamond League Para league.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 43.

    Re adverts, which ruins the coverage for me, I wrote to Channel 4 who confiirmed that they did not exceed their minutage!!!!!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 42.

    Channel 4 showed nearly as many adverts during the Paralympics as the BBC did advertising "Sharon's Return to EastEnders" and "Original British Drama on the BBC" during the Olympics. Cut Channel 4 some slack, they get their funding through advertising, unlike the "non-commercial" BBC who take the full whack out the out-dated TV License.

 

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