Marathon man: Briton David Weir wins his fourth Games gold, beating Marcel Hug and Australian Kurt Fearnley. Photo: Getty Images
DRAINED and physically battered, Kurt Fearnley could barely get the words out. He had been through 90 minutes of torture in yesterday's T54 wheelchair marathon on a hot autumn day in London and seen the title that he so coveted and had held since Athens in 2004 slip from his grasp.
At the end, when he shared a hug with his conquerer and great rival, David Weir, who collected his fourth gold medal of the London Paralympic games, the pair shared their thoughts.
"[He] said 'I love you brother' and I said f**k that hurt," said a laughing Fearnley, before apologising for the slip.
Fearnley said once he entered the home straight and Weir began his customary burst and gave no signs of slowing, he knew his chances were over.
"I don't know whether to smile or burst into tears. I'm just exhausted," said Fearnley immediately after the race. "I put myself into a position to win it and blew myself up along the way.
"I ruined myself ... I decided if I could bury myself on the course I'd be happy, and sometimes that's enough to win the gold and today it wasn't.
"Once we took that corner I knew he would pounce coming out and I wanted to be on his wheel and because it's a longer sprint than usual. I wanted to get him in the last 100 but then he kicked away, holy shit, he really kicked away and he hurt me.
"When he got that gap it was just... everything's blowing up. First your guts just seem to cramp and then your chest and your arms and then you're feeling like you're about to throw up and you grit your teeth and you think it's going to come out of your nose.
"It's just turbulence and freaking hard work, really, really hard work and I'm looking forward to getitng into that tent, pouring a bit of ice over me and shutting my eyes for a few minutes and just trying to get back life before I talk to anyone else."
Weir prevented Fearnley from winning a historic three-peat with the local hero collecting his fourth gold of the Games.
The big three of Weir, Fearnley and Marcel Hug had remained in a leading group for the whole race until Weir broke away in the final stretch with a burst. He finished in one hour 30 minutes and 20 seconds to second-placed Hug and third-placed Fearnley, who were 0.01 seconds behind.
The tight circuit did not favour Fearnley who prefers a course where he can test the field with breakaways.
Fearnley has probably not had the Games he had hoped, with his silver in the 5000 metres being his return from three earlier events. But it was the marathon that he really wanted, having won it in 2004 and 2008.
But Weir has been in breathtaking form in London, this three gold dispelling pre-Games speculation that he could crack under the massive expectation placed upon him as one of the faces of the Games. Weir has won the 800, 1500 and 5000 metres.