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Official website of IPC Athletics

Weir: I’d put money on Marcel Hug to win gold

Without David Weir in Lyon, Marcel Hug is expected to become the face of the men’s T54 class on the track and road.

A picture of a man in a wheelchair on a track Marcel Hug competes in the Men's 1500m - T54 heats at the London Paralympics © • Getty Images
By IPC

"On the track, I can’t see many people that can beat him. It is going to be a slow track like (in Birmingham) as well, so he is the strongest man and I would put my money on him anyway."

“Swiss Silver Bullet” Marcel Hug made it look easy beating British favourite David Weir in the 1,500m T54 race at the IPC Athletics Grand Prix event in last Saturday (29 June) in Birmingham, Great Britain.

He was calm, cool and collected – as he always is – even after finishing the race in 3:27.60 to beat the same man that finished ahead of him in all of his events at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Heading into this month’s IPC Athletics World Championships in Lyon, France, Hug will now be the face of the T54 class without Weir or Australian Kurt Fearnley competing.

This changes the scenario for Hug, who holds the world record in five distances but has never won a Paralympic gold and has only finished first twice in a World Championship event.

“If I had to choose, I’d now choose to be a world champion because I’m already a world-record holder,” Hug said.

“I’m really sad David’s not at the World Championships, as I always like to compete against him and would like to win, so it’s a little bit sad that he’s not there. Maybe I have a better chance, but there are also some good athletes from around the world. The Frenchman Julien Casoli, Josh Cassidy, the Japanese, the Chinese – there are a lot.”

All season Hug has played down his expectations of medalling in the long distances in Lyon, despite winning the Seoul Marathon, finishing second in the London Marathon and fourth in the Boston Marathon.

You’d think the 27-year-old’s nickname, which he received at the last World Championships in 2009, was indicative of his place on the podium – he’s always finishing second.

But rather, it illuminates his shiny silver helmet that’s awfully difficult to miss.

Hug plans to compete in the 400m, 800m, 1,500m, 5,000m and 10,000m and marathon distances in Lyon, so his chances of coming away with a gold – or five – are arguably quite high.

But would that call for a name change?

“I like this nickname and don’t want to change it, and I don’t want to change my silver helmet … even if I win gold,” Hug said.

The Nottwil native insists he’ll head to Lyon with the same inaudible attitude and approach, which includes listening to classical music or movie soundtracks in the athlete call room prior to getting on the track.

While Weir will not be in Lyon – choosing instead to pursue more road racing competitions – he was very adamant about his predictions for Hug.

"Marcel is always going to be the strongest athlete,” Weir said. “I could see him getting three or four gold medals in the world championships in Lyon in a couple of weeks.

"On the track, I can’t see many people that can beat him. It is going to be a slow track like (in Birmingham) as well, so he is the strongest man and I would put my money on him anyway."

If Weir’s words ring true, Hug has the potential to be the biggest medal winner of all 1,100 athletes in Lyon.

The 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships will take place in Lyon, France from 19-28 July. Featuring 1,100 athletes from 100 countries, it will be the biggest gathering of track and field athletes since London 2012.