Paralympics 2012: David Weir driven by ghosts of Games past

2012 Paralympics

  • Date: Wednesday, 29 August to Sunday 9 September

Coverage: Extensive daily coverage across 5 live, 5 live sports extra and the BBC Sport website

David Weir's view on the 2000 Paralympics was very different to the one he will have as a star of the London Games.

Instead of a racing chair seat at the centre of the action, Weir was settled on his sofa thousands of miles away when the action began in Sydney 12 years ago.

It proved uncomfortable viewing for the Londoner.

"I sat down to watch the Paralympics in Sydney, saw Tanni Grey-Thompson winning all her medals and regretted every minute of the previous four years," he told BBC Sport.

"I had been to the Games in Atlanta in 1996 as a young lad of 17 but when I got there it wasn't what I had expected.

Weir's Paralympics

  • London 2012: T54 800m, T54 1500m, T54 5000m, Marathon
  • Beijing 2008 : T54 800m (Gold), T54 1500m (Gold), T54 400m (Silver), T54 5000m (Bronze)
  • Athens 2004: T54 100m (Silver), T53 200m (Bronze), T54 400m (Heats)
  • Sydney 2000: Did not compete
  • Atlanta 1996: 100m (7th), 4x100m relay (4th)

"I could count about five people in the crowd at times. It disheartened me a little bit because I had missed my teenage years of growing up and being with my friends to compete at a Paralympics.

"I fell out of love with the sport and when I got back I just didn't want to do it any more. At that age, I just wanted to go out clubbing and do what normal teenagers do.

"But watching Sydney, I wished I was there. I may have been in medal contention, you never know, but that experience just drove me on.

"After that I said to myself that I would never let myself down."

The London Games' aim of inspiring a generation is one that has been subject to heavy scrutiny.

But Weir's achievements since 2000 show the effects that even a distant Paralympics can have.

Since being spurred on by events Down Under, Weir has won a total of six Paralympic medals, including two golds in Beijing, and this April equalled Thompson's record six wins in the London marathon.

As a man already awarded the freedom of his home town of Sutton in Surrey, a triumphant return to London would represent a neat conclusion to Weir's career.

"I think I am at that age where my tick list of things to do is pretty much minimal," says the 33-year-old.

"I have won the races that I have wanted to win, the last big one was the New York marathon and then I wanted to equal Tanni's record for the London marathon and now this is it really, this is the big one, the final push."

One of the few things left for Weir is to see how things might have turned out with a little more luck four years ago.

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Hopefully I can fulfil my dream and play in Ibiza one time

David Weir on his future plans

Weir went to Beijing tipped as a man who could win all five of the events he was selected for.

In the end two golds represented a personal triumph as he found himself taking on, not just the best the rest of the world had to offer, but also a local virus that forced him to drop the marathon from his schedule.

Perhaps burned by the experience, he sees his four events in London as more of an insurance policy rather than an opportunity to sweep the board.

"I am lucky that I can do four events and am talented enough to cover those four events," he added.

"The reason is that if something doesn't go right in the first couple, like in Beijing, then I still have the chance to win one or two in the other events. That is the reason I am doing those events, not because I think I can win four gold medals.

"I just want one gold medal. If I get more it is a bonus and if it doesn't happen and I have got one then I will be happy."

For Weir, with two young children and a third on the way, London could well be a last hurrah.

Although he admits he is tempted by the prospect of Rio, another party capital that could have lured him away in the intervening four years.

His break from sport in the wake of Atlanta fuelled his love of house music and by 2016 it may be the Balearics rather than the Paralympics that fill his diary.

"My little project for after my sports career is to get more into my music," he said.

"My CD decks are still up in the front room. I have contacts in the DJ-ing world so hopefully I can fulfil my dream and play in Ibiza one time. I think that is the Mecca of every DJ."

Before he starts spinning any tracks though, Weir is raring for at least one more spin on the track.