Shock As Londoner Made To Hand Back Gold Medal

By Craigie_B Last edited 123 months ago
Shock As Londoner Made To Hand Back Gold Medal

Just as soon as we talk about the success of one of our city's Paralympians in Beijing, it all gets a bit more complicated.

Londoner Dave Weir, in his third of five different events he's competing in, managed to win the 800m wheelchair final today to take his first gold medal (to sit alongside his silver and bronze from two earlier distances). Australia's Kurt Fearnley came second, 0.15 seconds behind.

Australia appealed the result on the basis that their entrant should have been in a middle lane, but in a mix-up was inadvertently placed in lane 2 - which severely disadvantaged him and prevented him from following his game plan.

In an upset, the complaint was upheld. The gold medal has been given back and the race will be re-run on Tuesday. Dave, suffering from a illness, has another two events to compete in too - so god only knows what he has the capacity to achieve, now.

It all seems so cruel - and the paralympic world is in uproar. If lane 2 is a severe disadvantage, shouldn't it have the start line moved forward or some other measure to make it equal? Also, if the guy's game plan was suddenly so massively compromised by the lane change, why didn't the Ozzie complain it before the race rather than after it (i.e. when he didn't get the gold medal he wanted. hmmm.)

Under the rules the decision of the Jury of Appeal is final and not subject to further appeal so there seems little that can be done now, except to analyse what went wrong and make sure it doesn't happen again. ParalympicsGB is doing what it can, and has called for those responsible to be held accountable.

At least we can take solace in the fact that GB is currently a good 2nd in the medals table, 12 gold ahead of the US. Australia languishes in 5th, only just above a threatening Russia and South Africa, who both have the same number of golds.

As the Judi Dench of paralympic sport, Tanni Grey-Thompson, said today - "Go Dave!" - Londonist will be rooting for him to get (back) his deserved gold on Tuesday (2.10am British time).

UPDATE: Justice has now been done. Marv.

Photograph is the author's own

Last Updated 13 September 2008