KURT Fearnley has claimed bronze in the men’s wheelchair Marathon at the London Paralympics – his third medal in three consecutive Games.
Fearnley hit the finish line in The Mall, with Buckingham Palace in the background, almost exactly at the same time as Britain’s David Weir (gold, 1hour:30min:20sec) ) and Marcel Hug (Switzerland). In fact less than a second separated all three racers – a photo was needed to split the Swiss from the Australian as they both recorded 1:30.21.
``I’m just exhausted. I don’t know if I feel great or I’m about to throw up,’’ Fearnley said.
``I’m just done… I put myself in a position to win and just blew myself up along the way.’’
Fellow Newcastle resident and training mate, Christie Dawes, finished 6th in the women’s marathon.
Fearnley was the defending champion in the 42km Marathon – the most gruelling of the 170 Atheltics events on the London program – from Beijing and also won it in Athens.
``I ruined myself and I think a lot of the times when you bury yourself you’re good enough to win,’’ he said. ``I decided if that if I could burn myself on the course I’d be happy. Sometimes that’s enough to win the gold and today it wasn’t.’’
For Weir it was an extraordinary win before his home crowd – his fourth gold medal in London after three in track events (5000m, 1500m, 800m).
Sunday’s hot and sunny conditions gave the London marathon a particularly `Greek’ feel.
``Pretty much similar to Athens, where it got up to 30 degrees. We burned out there today,’’ Fearnley said.
Weir came over to Fearnley across the finish line to speak with his great rival.
``He came and gave me a hug and said `I love you brother’ and I said `F--- that hurt’,’’ Fearnley said, not trying to disguise his feelings.
``I don’t know whether I’m smiling or about to be sick. Either way it’s just turbulent and freaking hard work – really hard work out there,’’ the 31-year-old said, whose middle name is courage after crawling the 90km Kokoda Track and sailing the Sydney-to-Hobart, crawling around the deck.
Asked what kept him going after such a deflating result and body-wrecking experience, and he had a three-word answer.
``The next race.’’
By Margie McDonald