First GB double victory at Tyne Tunnel
Britain’s top racing duo reigned supreme last night in North East England’s wheelchair extreme, an incredible showcase of metal and muscle, of speed and stamina, the “Tyne Tunnel 2K International”.
The event, dubbed the fastest wheelchair race on the planet saw men’s winner, Beijing double gold medallist, David Weir hit 44 mph on the downhill with last year’s women’s winner, Canadian Diane Roy toping an impressive 38mph.
But it wasn’t all plane sailing for Weir, Canadian Josh Cassidy was hot on his tail for the entire dash to the belly of the Tyne and for the killer climb back out into north bank and the cheering crowds . In the end, it was Weir’s phenomenal strength and condition that gave him a 4.04.09 victory, 7.9 seconds clear of the 2008 defending champion. First time entrant to the T2K, Spaniard Roger Verdageur, came home in third with a respectable 4.42.5.
The women’s race saw the gold, silver and bronze medallists from the 5000m Beijing final cross the line ahead of the field with GB’s Shelly Woods, a Beijing silver medal winner, being awarded 1st place by adjudicators in a controversial tight finish over Amanda McGrory from the USA. Both women were seriously impeded by the tail enders in the men’s race; Shelly swerving to the right to miss Mickey Bushell and Amanda actually breaking to avoid careering into the rear of Tushar Patel. Woods finished in 5.33.4, McGrory’s time was 5.33.9 with Diane Roy a little further back in 6.00.5.
North and South Tyneside Councillors Huscroft and Hanson teamed up with local residents Mary Finnegan and Lynn Uren to hand out the prizes to the race winners. North Tyneside Councillor Huscroft was fresh from his stint on the finish line tape with Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Kerr.
Andrew Kerr said, “We have collectively produced a world class event on a world class stage”.
South Tyneside Council’s Cllr Hanson said, “This is a truly unique race which could only happen here in Tyneside. I’m delighted to see it go from strength to strength”
David Burdus, Race Promoter, said, “Disabled people in sport? They’re not really up there. This event is changing that. We have powerful, colourful, breathtaking images which are shattering traditional stereotypes of disabled people in sport. To all those people who decided to get behind this event this year – good on you!”
Trevor Jackson, Managing Director of Tyne Tunnel operator TT2, said, ” This has been a fantastic evening and we’re proud once again to host the most incredible wheelchair race in the world! I am pleased so many of our neighbours were able to join us in raising the profile of this unique showcase. It’s very much a local event that attracts world class athletes and global attention”.