Weir's record win was 'my proudest moment'
David Weir described his thrilling victory at yesterday’s record-breaking Virgin Money London Marathon as “one of the proudest” of his illustrious career today just 24 hours after he became the most successful athlete in the event’s history.
Weir powered past reigning champion Marcel Hug to win his seventh London Marathon men’s wheelchair crown on his 18th appearance, taking him above Tanni Grey-Thompson on the event’s all-time winners’ board.
The six-times Paralympic champion won his first title in 2002 and his sixth in 2012, just months before taking four gold medals at the London 2012 Games.
But he had to endure a five-year hiatus before clinching his record seventh on The Mall on Sunday. It was a second victory in two weeks for the rejuvenated Briton, who won the Paris Marathon title a fortnight ago.
“It has been a good couple of weeks,” said Weir. “At last I felt back to my best after a challenging six or seven months since the Rio Paralympics.
“Yesterday was really special. Deep down it was one of the proudest moments of my career. To ever top London 2012 would take a special race and yesterday it did.”
As for the future, the 38-year-old refused to rule out a 19th appearance in 2018 to bid for an eighth win as he hailed the Abbott World Marathon Majors wheelchair series as a reason to continue racing.
“Let me savour this for now and then we’ll see,” he said. “Now that I’ve got maximum points in the World Marathon Majors maybe I’ll try and build on that and win some cash.”
Weir’s own racing school – the Weir Archer Academy – will receive a US$10,000 donation thanks to his victory, as part of the World Marathon Majors’ new charity initiative.
An equivalent sum will be donated to the chosen charities of the three other 2017 London Marathon champions.
Right to Play will be the beneficiary of women’s wheelchair winner, Manuela Schär, while $10,000 will go to Save the Children in honour of men’s champion Daniel Wanjiru and to the Gathimba Edwards Foundation chosen by women’s winner Mary Keitany.
Keitany revealed this morning how memories of her fall in last year’s race motivated her to make her record-breaking solo run in yesterday’s race. The incident in 2016 meant Keitany could only finish ninth, her worst position ever in a marathon, and led to her missing out on selection for the Rio Olympics.
The 35-year-old returned this year determined to put things right and produced an incredible piece of front running to do just.
She defied the pre-race predictions of a close battle and took off from the start with her pacemaker and training partner, Caroline Kipkirui. They raced to the fastest first half ever seen, and Keitany went on to break world records for 30K and the women-only marathon, erasing Paula Radcliffe’s 12-year-old mark.
Against a field described as the best ever seen in the event’s 37-year history, it was nothing if not brave.
“I just didn’t want to disappoint you after last year when I fell down,” she said. “I prepared well to make sure I was ready for anything.
“I knew I could run a good time, and although my colleagues didn’t follow me, I thought the pacemaker would help get me through.
“The early pace was a bit crazy but I thought my body feels ok so I will see what happens. I put it in my mind that if someone comes from behind I was ready with tactics, because I didn’t want the same thing to happen that happened last year.
“Caroline did a great job,” she added. “She had never run a half marathon that fast and she asked me if she could stop. I said, ‘Just keep going a bit.’ From there, I was feeling my body in the second half.”
Keitany now travels to Italy and Germany before heading back home, where she expects a party to celebrate her London victory.
It will be the same for Daniel Wanjiru, whose run of mental toughness and tactical maturity to defeat Ethiopian great Kenenisa Bekele made yesterday’s men’s race one of the most fascinating in recent years.
“I talked to my family after I won yesterday and they said everyone back home was very happy,” he said. “I called my wife this morning and she said they are already planning a celebration with my friends and training mates when I return.
“Maybe they will greet me at the airport. I expect something good.”
Wanjiru is now hoping to be back in London in a few months’ time to represent Kenya for the first time at this summer’s World Championships.
“I am looking forward to being back in London again if I am selected,” he said. “I would also like to defend my title here next year.”
In contrast, Keitany is keeping her cards close to her chest.
“I will have to go home first to recover,” she said. “Then I will talk to my manager. I also have to wait for the federation to say something.”
As for a crack at Radcliffe’s ‘absolute’ world record of 2:15:25, she said: “I am happy to have this one for now. It was great to run such a time and to know I am a world record holder.
“It’s great to have a taste of the world record. I will celebrate this and then we’ll see.”