London Marathon: David Weir aims for ninth win in 25th race with new Formula 1-designed racing wheelchair

Home » London Marathon: David Weir aims for ninth win in 25th race with new Formula 1-designed racing wheelchair

An incredible career spanning three decades inspired by a few short seconds of TV footage – David Weir’s goal in life immediately became to race in the London Marathon.

Now 45, Weir has become a legend of the iconic race and will compete in the capital for the 25th year in a row this Sunday – armed with a new racing chair that has seen him break personal bests across multiple distances on the track and given him the tools to propel himself back into contention for a ninth victory in London.

Competing in the same chair as long-time rival Marcel Hug in a marathon for the first time, Weir finished in third place and six minutes behind the ‘Swiss Silver Bullet’ as he won his seventh Boston Marathon on Monday.

“It’s basically a Formula 1 chair because it’s made by Sauber (which has a Formula 1 team under the name Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber), it feels amazing to push,” Weir told BBC Sport.

“I’m very aero[dynamic], the chair’s aero, it’s a full carbon chair – it’s great to be in.

“Marcel is on top of his game and is the master of the marathon distance at the moment, it’s a special race for me because it’s where I started my journey.”

The chair is worth up to £35,000 with full specifications and was developed by Sauber and Orthotec in collaboration with Hug,, external who has won marathons in Berlin, New York, London, Boston and Chicago with it, as well as breaking world records on the track.

Weir has been resurgent in his preparations for the marathon and Paralympics in Paris this year, breaking the T54 5000m British record in February at the Dubai Grand Prix, finishing just 0.2 seconds behind Hug as the Swiss set a new world record.

He also set new personal bests in the 800m and 1500m and now he has his sights set once again on competing on the track and in the marathon events at the Paralympics, despite previously retiring from track competition.

“I’ve got my spark back, I feel like I’m 10 years younger,” he said.

“It was a shock to me in Dubai because I didn’t think I could keep up with the guys but I raced really well.”

‘Coverage of para sport has fizzled out’

Weir has won six gold, two silver and two bronze medals at the Paralympics since making his debut in Atlanta as a 17-year-old in 1996, including four golds on home soil at London 2012 when the coverage and awareness of para sport was elevated to new levels.

But as a young boy growing up in London he did not see disabled athletes on television in the 1980s, apart from for a few short segments during the London Marathon each year.

That small insight inspired him to take up wheelchair racing and he has seen great steps forward in the exposure for the sport he loves – but more must be done, he feels.

“It was great up until 2012 and then afterwards we had a lot of superstars from that but I feel like it’s fizzled out, I don’t think there’s enough coverage of athletes, I don’t think enough races are covered,” he said.

“We have a lot of races around the world, especially on the track, I feel for the guys who don’t get that exposure.”

This year, the marathon will award equal prize money across wheelchair and able-bodied races for the first time in its history.

Weir has only finished outside the top three on four occasions, in 2000, 2013, 2019 and last year, and has not won since back-to-back victories in 2017 and 2018.

And it is those two victories, along with his achievements at London 2012, that he is most proud of across his illustrious career.

“I was struggling with severe mental health issues, to win in 2017 after what happened in Rio (at the 2016 Paralympics, where he failed to medal) was a big achievement for me because I didn’t think I’d be able to win anything,” he said.

“I couldn’t really celebrate that win because I had so many mental health issues, and then in 2018 I came back stronger and won two marathons in a row and I could actually celebrate both of them because I’d started to feel slightly better in myself and better about my achievements.”

‘To win another London Marathon would be the best thing ever’

Weir moved to the Sussex coast at St Leonards-on-Sea four years ago and he said living in the countryside has made a “massive difference” to his mental health and wellbeing.

A lover of days out in the country with his wife and children, he is calling on the government to improve accessibility on country paths for wheelchair users and those with limited mobility in a campaign with walking charity Ramblers., external

Raising awareness of such issues and promoting para sport have become more important to him as his career has progressed, and he never thought he would still be racing at the age of 45.

Those around him believe he could go on to compete into his 50s, like one of his idols Heinz Frei, of Switzerland.

“We’ll see, it’s a big year for me,” added Weir. “I’ve got potentially my last Paralympics. At my age, I want to give it my all if it is.

“Every year I train my hardest because I think it’s going to be my last season. If I win any medals it would be a massive achievement.

“I’d be incredibly proud just to reach the finals in Paris because my career has been so long. To win the London Marathon again would be the best thing ever for me.”

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