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Realising that I’ve been out of sequence in ending the London 2012 Paralympics, it would be remiss of me to omit David ‘Weir-wolf’ Weir, who won four gold medals during the Games.

Weir won Great Britain’s last gold medal on the last day in the Marathon. Earlier in the Paralympics he won the T54 wheelchair races for the 800m, 1500m and 5000m events.

He is pictured with his son Mason after Sunday’s Marathon. (Photo credit: ParalympicsGB)

Weir, soon to be a father for a second time, told Channel 4, the Paralympics broadcaster, that he felt like ‘dying’ five miles into the 26-mile race around Central London. However, he said that he’d thought of all the training he’d done over the past four years, including regular sessions in London’s Richmond Park with professional cyclists, and ‘dug deep’ to be the first at the finish line.

Weir isn’t the most extroverted of the Team GB athletes. However, he has tremendous upper body strength which enables him to pull out all the stops in his wheelchair. He is also gracious in thanking his coach Jenny Archer and the crowds.

London’s mayor Boris Johnson wrote his impressions of the race and Weir for the Telegraph:

His raking arms and powerful shoulders were still covered with grime from the road, and a scab had been freshly dislodged from his hand. He had just spent the past hour and a half pummelling his dragster wheelchair round London with all the grace and velocity of a human greyhound.

He went so fast that there are probably parts of Islington where he would have been done for speeding – and the effort had been phenomenal. The sun was equatorial. He had 63 tricky corners to negotiate. He had to beat off a determined challenge from the Swiss Marcel Hug and the reigning champion, the Australian Kurt Fearnley – and as he came into the final stretch he was in the lead, but only by a few feet; a couple of axe handles between them, and after 26 miles.

Hug and Fearnley were formidable competitors on the track as well as on the road. Weir was exhausted after his win just a few days before on Thursday. The racers were in dope control for several hours after that race; they did not make it back to the Olympic Village until the early hours of Friday morning. After the Marathon, however, Weir told Johnson that beetroot juice was his tonic:

“Look it up,” said the Weir Wolf. “Beetroot. It’s much better than caffeine.”

Weir, 34, is no stranger to London Marathons, World Championships or the Paralympics. Yet, he remains grounded. Writing for the Telegraph, he said:

I still live in the same area of south London where I grew up and hang out with the same friends as when I was a kid. My coach, Jenny Archer, is a huge influence as well – so much so, that she will be getting my red crash helmet for her mantelpiece.

And my family will always help keep me in check. That was always the way, even when I was small and growing up on our council estate.

Weir has never been able to walk:

I had been born with something called a spinal cord transection. They don’t understand what happened in the womb: when I emerged into the world, the doctors thought my legs were broken and my feet were twisted. My mum Jackie noticed I was just wiggling my toes.

In fact, my spinal cord had been severed. I’ve got some feeling in my lower half, but cannot lock my legs or stand up at all. I needed five operations just to straighten my feet.

His parents had the presence of mind to treat him the same way as their other sons:

It would have been easy for my family to molly-coddle me, but they never treated me like I was disabled or different in any way. I was allowed to climb trees on the estate, got punished in the same way as my brothers when I was naughty and went to mainstream school.

Having that background has been invaluable. It’s bred a desire and determination inside me which has got me through – not just in the last couple of weeks, which have been brutal, but in the months leading up to the Games.

Weir’s father was his trainer in the early days. Now, with Weir remaining in Greater London and his father living in Northern Ireland, it’s more difficult for father to see son race. Fortunately, he was able to see David win the 1500m event at London 2012. That was in front of a crowd of 80,000. Watching at home, I can tell you the crowd noise was unforgettable that evening.

Like Paralympic equestrian Sophie Christiansen, Weir helped to heighten my own able-bodied inadequacy when he said that he felt like ‘dying’ after the first five miles of the Marathon. After I saw his interview, I felt a burst of energy — no beetroot juice, though — and did a frenetic burst of gardening that afternoon. (Yes, it was a Sunday, but the weather was perfect and I was rather stir-crazy after hearing Weir’s words.)

Seeing Weir in the London 2012 Parade with the four gold medals draped neatly around his neck reminded me that we are all called to excellence in this life, no matter what God in His sovereignty  hands us.

David Weir is an inspiration to all of us in achieving greatness. If we had half his gumption and drive — no matter what we do in life — the world would be a much better place.

Excellence — a byword which describes David Weir. Something more of us might do well to perfect? I certainly shall.

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