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Protest ruins Dave Weir’s Paralympic dream

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David Weir in action

 

13 September 2008

 

After a difficult week, Dave Weir was delighted to take his first Paralympic title in the Bird’s Nest in the T54 800m final, only to later find out that the Australian’s had lodged a protest.

 

When greeting the media following the race, Weir said:

 

“It’s the most amazing feeling,” said Weir. “It’s all I have trained for to become a Paralympic champion. I can't really put it into words now.”

Late into the evening session, Weir found out that the Jury of Appeal had upheld the Australian protest and the decision had been made to re-run the 800m final on 16 September.

 

The Australian protest was that the Call Room used the incorrect version of the start list, which severely disadvantaged their athlete in the lane draw.

 

In a cruel twist, Weir believed he had finally won Gold at the distance he describes as his “bogey event”.

His tactics were clear – go from the front and let nobody past. Weir led from the start just as he did in yesterday’s semi-final, but this time he kept something in reserve, watching his rivals as they tracked his every move.

Weir, 29 crossed the line in 1:36.61 and punched the air. Kurt Fearnley (Australia) finished second in 1:36.76 and Wahoram third with 1:37.12.

 

Following news of the decison from the Jury of Appeal, Tim Jones, Athletics Team Manager for ParalympicsGB, said:

“We are stunned by the decision of the Jury of Appeal. We believe that the issue protested had no material impact on the outcome of the race.

“Needless to say Dave is finding it hard to come to terms with this decision having thought he had won his first Paralympic gold medal.”

Phil Lane, Chef de Mission, ParalympicsGB, added:

 

“We are extremely disappointed for David Weir, who won the race on merit and is understandably shocked by the decision of the Jury of Appeal to declare the race null and void and order a re-run.

“Under the IAAF rules the decision of the Jury of Appeal is final and not subject to further appeal but we are investigating the process that led to the race being run with an incorrect lane draw to see if there is anything that can be done on David Weir’s behalf to reverse this decision.

“We will be asking the IPC for a full investigation into how this incident occurred and an assurance that the person or persons responsible will be held accountable.”