Puncture ruins Weir's effort as Smith claims gold

Australia's De Rozario retains women’s marathon T53/54 title with Games record time 31 Jul 2022
England's Johnboy Smith crossed the finishing line in one hour 41.15 minutes for his first CWG gold.
England's Johnboy Smith crossed the finishing line in 1:41:15 for his first Commonwealth Games gold.
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By World Para Athletics

The Para athletics action at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games got off to an exhilarating start with Johnboy Smith fetching the hosts England the men’s marathon T53/54 gold on Saturday (30 July).

In a dramatic final moment of the race, Smith overtook fellow racer and London 2012 Paralympic champion David Weir who was leading the pack by more than a minute with less than six miles of the race to go before an unfortunate puncture ended his medal hopes. 

Smith eventually crossed the finishing line four minutes and 34 seconds clear clocking in a time of 1:41:15.

Scotland's Sean Frame took the second place with a season's best 1:45:49 after holding off a late challenge from Simon Lawson of England (1:45:59).

“That’s one step up. It's a surreal moment, hard to take in. It was a tough, difficult course, almost impossible. But I've trained so hard for this, for 16 months solid,” said Smith, who was silver medallist at Gold Coast 2018 CWG. 

Smith also admitted that he got a bit lucky in the race. “Do not write off David Weir. He is not an old man; he is a supreme athlete. 

“If he hadn't had got that flat, I don't know what would have happened. But I could have closed the gap. It would have been a sprint finish. I won by good circumstances.

“If I have inspired one person or a million people today, I feel like I have done my job,” added the 32-year-old who was shot at the age of 16 which resulted in paralysis.

Weir, the 2012 London Paralympics gold medallist, eventually finished in seventh spot, nearly 24 minutes adrift of Smith.

“I've never felt despair in a race before. By coincidence, I was talking with my wife the other day and I said that if I had a big lead, I could even afford to change a tyre. In the end I decided not to carry a spare ... I should have gone with my gut instinct.”

De Rozario defends title in style

On the other hand, Australia's Madison de Rozario showed her dominance by retaining the women’s title with a Games Record time of 1:56:00.

De Rozario finished 3:45 clear of second placed England's Eden Rainbow-Cooper who clocked a personal-best time of 1:59:45.

In the marathon events for non-Para athletes, Uganda’s Victor Kiplangat claimed the men’s marathon gold with a timing of 2:10:55 while Australian Jessica Stenson emerged the winner in the women’s event with a season's best 2:27:31. 

Complete results from Para athletics at Birmingham 2022 are available here.