Weir takes giant leap from couch to podium

Warren Weir: “I came out here with the goal of getting the 1-2-3 for Jamaica. I’m very overwhelmed to know that I played my part in history.”

LONDON, England   ●    Four years ago Warren Weir was at home watching Usain Bolt race to a 100 and 200 metres Olympic double in Beijing but on Thursday he sat beside him having just helped deliver a Jamaican clean sweep in the longer distance at the London Games.

“I came out here with the goal of getting the 1-2-3 for Jamaica. I’m very overwhelmed to know that I played my part in history,” the 22-year-old told reporters after winning a bronze medal behind Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake.

Still with the looks and physique of a teenager in comparison to the refined figure of 25-year-old Bolt and the muscled physique of Blake, also 22, Weir stands out from his more famous countrymen on all accounts.

Bolt’s victory on Thursday secured an amazing Olympic double-double and made him the sport’s greatest ever athlete. Blake is both a contender and likely successor to Bolt, and already world champion in the 100 metres.

Although less of a household name, Weir is highly rated by Glen Mills, who also trains Blake and Bolt.

“Coach Glen Mills is like a father to me. He said, I’m going to turn you into a sprinter that the world will see and recognise and I’ve got to say thank you very much,” said Weir, who was born in Trelawny, the same parish as Bolt.

That process started with the skinny youngster making the switch from hurdles to the 200m, and with a medal at his first Olympic Games courtesy of a personal best on the world’s biggest stage, it is a gamble that has paid off.

“To come to the Olympics and run in the 200 and come in with a 19.84 (seconds) is an excellent feeling. To know that I’ve switched from the hurdles to the 200 and that result paid off -coach Mills, your vision paid off,” Weir said.

Weir, a fan of England’s Chelsea football club, is very comfortable with his more successful compatriots, even cheekily suggesting on Thursday that Bolt’s next career challenge should be to join the Jamaican bobsleigh team.

Bolt, after quashing the bobsleigh option, suggesting joining Manchester United or a cricket team in India might be more preferable one day, said he expected big things of Weir, possibly at the next Games in Rio.

“These guys (Blake and Weir) are 22, I’m going to be 30, both these guys are running extremely well and I think I’ve had my time,” the world’s fastest man told reporters.

Weir said Blake and Bolt have been mentors to him at the Racers Track Club in Kingston.

“I must say training with Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake, they are the Gods of track and field. They really inspire me with the 5.30 in the morning training, in the gym and on the track, they inspire me.”

Asked what Bolt whispered to him before the start of the 200m, Weir said with a smile, “1-2-3.”

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