When David Weir crossed the line ahead of the pack at the London Marathon in April, he described it as his “best victory ever”.

It was also a magnificent moment of redemption after a deeply disappointing 2016 that saw him come home empty-handed from the Paralympics for the first time since Atlanta 20 years previously.

And it demonstrated a phenomenal strength of character to match his 
once-in-a-generation talent.

David’s achievements spanning two decades are simply awe-inspiring. He will be forever associated with his heroics at the 2012 London Paralympics. The nation rose as one to acclaim an athlete who had left an indelible mark on his home Games. But this Paralympic giant’s legacy extends well beyond one golden summer.

The Londoner was born with a spinal cord transection that left him unable to use his legs. He competed in his first Paralympics in 1996 at the age of 17, but was left disillusioned by the sparse crowds and turned his back on the sport. His desire to compete was rekindled as he watched the 2000 Sydney Paralympics on TV, and he started training with coach Jenny Archer.

He finished fifth in the London Marathon in 2001, before winning the race the following year at the age of 21.

Guided by Jenny, he returned to the Paralympics at the Athens Games in 2004, picking up his first medals, a silver and bronze in the 100m and 400m respectively.

That started a medal rush that continued in Beijing in 2008, when the man who would become known as the Weirwolf won the 800m and 1,500m double to seal his position as a Paralympic legend. By the time 2012 came around, David had equalled Tanni Grey-Thompson’s record of six London Marathon titles. He had also completed a memorable triumph in the 2010 New York marathon. It would be the Games in his home city, though, that would come to define his remarkable career.

Speaking in the run-up to an event that continues to inspire the next generation of Paralympic athletes, David spoke of how his preparation for London had been near perfect.“For years I’ve gone to major events with glandular fever, injuries, chest infections or, as in 2006, having crashed just before the World Championships and cut my head open,” he said. “I’ve had a long injury-free run, and I’ve learnt to peak on the big occasions.”

Those words couldn’t have been better chosen. As the euphoria over the performance of Britain’s Paralympians grew, then so did the excitement created by a wheelchair racer who, for two glorious September weeks, utterly outclassed his rivals.

David won four gold medals in London, following success in the 800m, 1,500m and 5,000m with a victory in the T54 Marathon. That 26-mile slog was, he would later admit, the toughest race of his life.

“For the first five miles I was absolutely dying,” he said. “I didn’t think I was going to manage to cope, with the heat and everything. I had to take another energy shot that I had with me, just to keep me going.”

In a summer where golden achievements just kept coming, it still stood out – which is a measure both of Weir’s excellence and his enduring appeal to the British public.

Rio 2016 was a different story, with disappointment on the track together with a crash that put him out of the marathon ending his dreams of winning another medal.

But at his lowest ebb – he has spoken bravely about his battle with depression to highlight the issue of mental health – he 
still had the drive and determination to get back in training.

The result was that sensational London Marathon triumph.

David’s vast contribution to British sport is undeniable, and he is intent on helping other people too.

With coach Jenny Archer, he set up the Weir Archer Academy in 2013, to support disabled athletes of all abilities, from youngsters trying the sport for the first time to elite competitors.

It means this remarkable man’s sporting legacy will continue to grow, even after he decides to call time on his stellar career.

David is one of Britain’s greatest-ever sportsmen - his incredible medal tally over two decades stands as proof of that. But his achievements are greater than simply winning races. The way he has overcome adversity is absolutely inspirational, and now he is helping the next generation too. He is a giant of British sport.Pride of Sport judges

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