Wheelchair racer Weir completes sweep of golds at Paralympics by winning marathon
LONDON - Oscar Pistorius cemented his status as the icon of the London Paralympics by winning gold in the final track event in the Olympic Stadium.
As for the star of the games, look no further than British wheelchair racer David Weir.
The man nicknamed the "Weirwolf of London" has become a household name in the host nation by winning the 800 metres, 1,500 metres and 5,000 metres over the past week.
He completed his clean sweep of golds on Sunday, timing his sprint finish to perfection to win the wheelchair marathon in blazing sunshine along the streets of the capital in a time of one hour 30 minutes 20 seconds.
Thousands of spectators lined the route of the marathon to cheer on the 33-year-old Weir, who was competing in his home city nearly five months after winning the London Marathon for the sixth time.
"It's just amazing, I am lost for words," Weir said. "I knew I had to be in some sort of super-human state to win four gold medals, and I've done it."
Pistorius' resounding victory in the 400 on Saturday produced his second gold medal of the games, adding to a victory in the 4x100 relay in a week when he surrendered his 100 and 200 titles.
The South African double amputee is the world's most famous Paralympian, transcending the world of disabled sport this summer as the first athlete to take part in both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Yet, he has been overshadowed in London by Weir, whose displays at the Olympic Stadium have been greeted by a so-called "Wall of Sound" from fans down the home straight. Many teammates also took a ritual of howling as he crossed the line, in reference to his nickname.
"To tell you the truth, every race I did in that stadium I didn't feel under pressure because the crowd was behind you if you won, lost or anything," said Weir, whose image has adorned billboards throughout the Paralympics. "It didn't matter what position you came in, they were still behind you and they still loved you."
Weir, who along with swimmer Ellie Simmonds and cyclist Sarah Storey is the host country's's most famous current Paralympian, was the favourite for the marathon. He was among a group of six racers that broke away early as the field sped past London landmarks such as St. Paul's Cathedral and Buckingham Palace.
As the finish line came into sight, Weir was battling with Marcel Hug of Switzerland and Kurt Fearnley of Australia for gold. The Briton pulled away to win by a second in a season-best time.
"I did have lots of dreams of winning four gold medals, but I think everybody has those dreams," Weir said. "I knew I was capable of doing it."