House of Payne: Weir deserves hero worship

First published in Sport by

This column saluted David Weir a couple of weeks ago and his status as a genuine contender for four golds in four very different Paralympic events, writes John Payne.
 

Never in our wildest dreams could we have expected the man, who has been tagged Weirwolf, would win all four.
 

He provided the most fitting of all finishes to our golden summer of sport by claiming marathon gold in the Mall on Sunday.
 

Four gold medals from a man who is the epitome of everything that is good about sport.
 

Grit, determination, overcoming the odds – and a personality to match.
A genuine contender for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, you would suspect.
 

And yet, this week, he is 25-1 fifth favourite to win the award. Granted, this has been the most golden of sporting years that this country has probably ever enjoyed.
 

Equally, it is not as though any of the four above him in the betting are our less-than-golden generation of footballers who flattered to deceive so inevitably once again on Tuesday night.
 

And, in any other year, the top four in the betting would have all won based on their achievements this year.
 

Bradley Wiggins is rated evens having enjoyed an iconic victory in the Tour de France as well as winning gold at London 2012; Andy Murray won the Olympic tennis and the US Open, but is still only 5-2; Mo Farah was the king of the Olympic stadium, but has to make do with 3-1; Jessica Ennis was an astonishing winner of a multi-sports event, but is 10-1.
 

Any one of them would be magnificent winners, but it does bother me that Weir’s claims have effectively been dismissed.
 

Does the fact that he is in a wheelchair somehow render his claims less worthy?
 

Does that make the great British public that much less likely to vote for him?
 

Had an able-bodied athlete claimed gold over distances as different as 400m and the marathon there is absolutely no doubt their odds would be much, much shorter.
 

And it goes to show that, while the Paralympics have changed attitudes in a wonderful way over the past couple of weeks, there is still a long way to go.
Even if he doesn’t win on Sue Barker and Gary Lineker’s jovial jamboree, Weir’s achievements demand further recognition.
 

Sir David Weir sounds about right if you ask me.

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