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David Weir reveals depths to which he sunk before his Paralympic bounce back

“The pressure of everything, racing and being this sort of superstar in the Paralympic world, it just took its toll on me”

Britain’s wheelchair racing great en route to his fifth Paralympics

When David Weir lost his Midas touch he thought of ending it all.

He went from winning four gold medals at the 2012 Paralympics to not being able to make a podium in Rio.

For the self-styled Weirwolf of London it was a horror show and he wanted out.

“I just felt what’s the point of even living or being here if I cannot deliver at the highest level,” the wheelchair legend revealed.

“The pressure of everything, racing and being this sort of superstar in the Paralympic world, it just took its toll on me.”

He announced he would never wear a GB vest again, saying he had been “stabbed in the back”.

He meant it too, so angry was he with British coach Jenni Banks, who he claimed accused him of throwing a relay race during those 2016 Paralympics.

Yet yesterday he completed his first training session in the Tokyo rain ahead of his fifth Games.



Weir roars to his fourth gold medal at London 2012 Paralympics










At the age of 42 the six-time champion has his mojo back and will contest the T54 1500m and 5000m as well as the marathon.

Weir said: “It’s been a rough road but I’m now in the best place I could ever imagine.

“That’s thanks to meeting my partner two years ago and getting back to the way I wanted to be with the racing; just enjoying it.”



Devastated: Weir after finishing sixth in Men’s 800m T54 Final at 2016 Rio Paralympics
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Image:

PA)




Weir, who was born with a spinal cord transection, preventing him from using his legs, swapped south London for the South Coast.

Moving in with Victoria and watching her teach art to a class of kids through a laptop online during lockdown reminded him that everyone has their challenges.

“I thought I had problems but doing that on a daily basis, making sure children were logging in and doing their work, was hard for her,” he said.



Weir: “The pressure of trying to deliver at the highest level had taken its toll”
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Image:

PA)




Weir, who had battled depression since childhood, started reading about Tyson Fury ’s battle with mental health and how getting back into training had helped the two-time world heavyweight champion.

“The pressure of trying to deliver at the highest level had taken its toll,” he said. “But my coach Jenny Archer never forced me to do anything, she just wanted me to feel better again.

“As soon as I got back into training, doing it for myself rather than anyone else, I started to feel better.”



Weir began process of banishing his Rio demons by winning a record seventh London marathon in 2017
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Image:

REUTERS)




The days of being the dominant force in his sport have gone, of winning Britain’s only two track golds in Beijing and sweeping the board in London.

He admits he may well have retired had he received the same financial rewards as able-bodied British stars of London 2012.

But for one reason or another he will be on the start line in Japan in the coming days – and his smile says he’ll be pleased to be there.




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