Six-time Paralympic gold medallist David Weir is relishing the chance to entertain a home crowd for the first time since London 2012 this weekend.
Weir, one of the stars of last year’s Games when he won an incredible four golds, is one of the leading attractions at today’s Sainsbury’s IPC Athletics Grand Prix Final in Birmingham.
It is the first major Paralympic event to be held in Great Britain since the roaring success of London and hopes are high that the athletes will once again be cheered on a by a passionate support.
Their profile has certainly never been higher and Weir is thrilled to be back in front of the fans who hailed him as a hero after his victories in the T54 800m, 1500m, 5000m and marathons last year.
He will be taking on the T54 1500m at the Alexander Stadium and the 34-year-old cannot wait.
“To be back racing in front of a British crowd again is great. I’m buzzing,” he said. “It’s nice to be back in the mix with the GB guys, see old team-mates again and to be able to race in front of a British crowd again is going to be nice because what happened was special.
“It’s going to be great in the stadium and they’ll see some great competition again, just like the Paralympics.”
Weir was already at the top of his field before London 2012, but his stunning displays catapulted him firmly into the public consciousness in a way few Paralympic athletes have ever experienced in this country.
The taste of celebrity is still unusual to him but Weir hopes to pay back his supporters every time he takes to the track. “I don’t see myself as a superstar but it’s nice to be recognised and to get that recognition that we deserve,” he added.
He is joined on the card by fellow London gold medallists Jonnie Peacock and Hannah Cockroft, and they share his relish for the event. Twenty-year-old Peacock, the T44 100m winner at the Paralympics and world record holder over the distance, is eager to revisit the joys of last summer.
“The crowd make such a difference for us, I can’t stress enough how valuable their cheering was [in London],” he said. “This weekend the British public will do what they do best, which is go out and cheer. I’ve got a lot of trust in them that they will do a great job. Hopefully we can put on a show.”
Cockroft leads the way on the women’s schedule, taking on the T34 100m and 800m.
The 20-year-old struck gold twice in London, in the T34 100m and 200m, and is the current holder of the T34 world records in both distances as well as 400m and 800m.