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Morrow relishing glory shot as legend Weir says farewell

By Adam McKendry

Published 16/09/2016

Sad end: Britain’s six-time Paralympic gold medallist David Weir will retire from the track after Rio 2016
Sad end: Britain’s six-time Paralympic gold medallist David Weir will retire from the track after Rio 2016
Northern Ireland’s Katie Morrow is still targeting success in the women’s wheelchair basketball

Northern Ireland's Katie Morrow will have one shot at a medal after her Team GB squad were defeated in their women's wheelchair basketball semi-final by the United States.

Team GB were beaten 89-78 by the USA team, despite an attempt at a spirited late comeback in the fourth quarter.

Morrow, from Co Antrim but living and training in Sheffield, was an unused substitute for the match but is likely to feature in today's bronze medal match against the Netherlands.

The 16-year-old has had to be content with bit-part appearances from the bench, but given her youth and inexperience she will not be too disappointed.

Today's opponents Holland gave defending champions Germany a real fright in the second semi-final yesterday, heading into the final quarter just seven points behind but eventually being overcome, losing 55-45.

Regardless of how they do in today's bronze clash, the British effort in Rio will be a marked improvement on their performance at London in 2012 where they could only manage seventh.

The Netherlands will be aiming for their second consecutive third placed finish at the Paralympics, having finished there in 2012, however they will be very disappointed not to improve on that this time around.

It will be another huge test for the British team, however they will be determined to avenge yesterday's defeat by bringing home a medal for Team GB.

Meanwhile, six-time British Paralympic wheelchair racing gold medallist David Weir has announced that he will be retiring from the track after he failed to pick up a medal at the Paralympics in Rio.

Weir (37) came sixth in the T54 800m yesterday, while he also finished fifth in the 400m and fourth in the 1500m in Rio.

It's an extremely disappointing end for Britain's greatest ever wheelchair racer, whose 800m title defence went down without so much as a whimper.

His claims that his preparations for Rio had been affected by events behind the scenes certainly seemed to be true, although he stressed the birth of his fourth child last week, Lenny, was not one of those factors.

"That's my last individual race on the track, and that was my decision before I came out here," a dejected Weir said after the final.

"I want to retire at the London Marathon next year. I'll give it one more winter's training and bow out where it all started."

Wallington-born Weir, whose mother is from Northern Ireland, has won the men's wheelchair race at the London Marathon a record six times.

But while it may be Weir's last individual race on the track, he still has work to do in Rio with the marathon coming up on Sunday. "The marathon I seem more comfortable at, so we'll see," he said. "But it's a flat course so it's going to suit the fast guys. I'll give it my best shot on Sunday and see what happens."

He is expected to make himself available for the T53/54 4x400m relay team as well, who are racing in the final tomorrow at 9:30pm, which, if he does so, would be his final ever race on the track.

His decision to retire means he won't get the chance to compete in the IPC Athletics World Championships in July at London's Olympic Stadium, the venue of his 2012 Paralympic successes.

But the 'Weirwolf', as he has been affectionately nicknamed, says that the racing just isn't the same as it was when he won his last Paralympic gold.

"That's racing," was his blunt summary of the day's events. "It's moved on in four years. I felt sharp yesterday, just didn't feel as sharp this morning."

The decorated Paralympian admitted that too much pressure was placed on his shoulders coming into these Games after his London exploits.

"Do you know what? A lot of people put the gold medals around my neck before I got here," Weir said.

"I knew that London was special and it was never going to be achieved again."

Belfast Telegraph

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