Weir humbled after Paralympic heroics which have changed his life forever
13:01 GMT, 16 September 2012
Having tried in vain, among the hysteria which followed his Paralympic triumphs, to make sense of things, it was eventually a moment of calm which spoke loudest to David Weir.
'I came back from doing a TV thing, late on Wednesday night, and my little boy, Morgan, who's one, had a cold and couldn’t sleep. So I sat on the sofa with him, just the two of us, and had a cuddle and a bit of a chat about what I'd been doing.'
He smiles at the memory – father and son, away from the noise and euphoria, sharing a unique moment. Then he looks down at the four gold medals around his neck, as if to confirm it really happened.
Gold standard: Weir has been on a rollercoaster ride of emotion since the summer
'When you’re in the village it's like being in a bubble, so when I came out and saw what was going on, I was stunned. I half expected someone to nudge me and say 'wake up, you're dreaming, you've got to go and race”.'
Weir's greatness, as with many of the summer’s heroes, is matched only by his ordinariness. At the victory parade he was struck by shyness when about to ask Jessica Ennis if she would pose for a picture with him When he did, she admitted she too had been plucking up the courage to ask the same of him.
Pondering the last fortnight, Weir also admits to being stunned at what he found, as he explored the further limits of his potential.
'Honestly I thought it was impossible to get four gold medals. But I did, and I did it in the best town in the world, in front of the greatest crowd at the greatest Paralympics ever.'
He intersperses grins with shakes of the head. It may yet take more than a late night with his infant son to properly make sense of it all. The impact of last Monday, when a million people crammed London’s streets to greet their heroes, is still clear.
'People like Chris Hoy and Ben Ainslie said I was an inspiration. That’s the sort of thing I’ll never forget.'
And through it all, he refuses to lose sight of the bigger picture.
Hero: weir bagged four golds during a memorable Paralympic summer
'For the first time, Paralympic sport has been properly viewed as equal. Not just “didn’t they try hard”, but the world watching what we did for the sake of the sport.
'People have said my 1500m was the best race they’d ever seen, Olympic or Paralympic. The best sporting moment they’ve ever experienced. When you see and hear that, you so start to think ‘What have we done here’ We’ve changed something really, really big.”
That fourth gold arrived, fittingly for a man whose first success was London’s mini-marathon, on the capital’s streets.
For the first few miles of the marathon Weir 'thought I was going to die' but his major challengers lacked either the pace or belief to make a move which he admits, could have broken him.
'I just clung on and didn’t let them know how much I was suffering.'
Their indecision proved fatal as Weir, hardened by endless hours training alongside cyclists on the hills of Richmond Park, threw down the gauntlet, four miles from the finish.
'I just thought “Right, let's get at it and give it a real go from here. Let’s see who fancies this”. Once I did that, the whole pack just split up, blew apart.'
Four of the best: Weir made himself a household name during the Paralympics
Even the absence of a banner at the finishing line – 'LOCOG told the organisers they didn’t have a tape and they weren’t going to provide one for Health and Safety reasons!' – couldn’t stop his surge to Paralympic immortality.
'I just kept going until I was sure it was the end. If I didn’t smile, it’s because I didn’t know I’d finished.'
With it safely won, his attentions now turn to a holiday, the arrival of his third child, and some time with the people who matter to him the most.
'I’m so happy to be back around my family again. They're the people you really celebrate with – the ones who know how much you put into it.'
He glances at his medals again, their golden clinking a constant reminder of his triumphs. Only a few might fully understand what David Weir put in, but an entire nation continues to celebrate what he brought back.