Wheelchair stars set for marathon finale
The Paralympic wheelchair marathon brings the curtain down on a glittering couple of weeks of action for the stars of the Abbott World Marathon Majors series.
The athletes we’re so accustomed to seeing on the roads of our six cities have been battling for Paralympic gold on the track across a range of distances in Tokyo, and several of them will be carrying home a lot more excess hardware than they arrived with.
After a wait stretching back to Athens in 2004, reigning AbbottWMM women’s series champion Manuela Schär finally struck Paralympic gold with victories in the T54 400m and 800m, adding silver medals in the 1,500m and 5,000m.
Gold in the 5,000m went to the USA’s Susannah Scaroni with her compatriot Tatyana McFadden taking the bronze.
McFadden also took a silver medal in the 800m behind Schär to bring her Paralympic career medal haul to an eye-watering 19 ahead of Sunday’s final race.
China’s Zhaoqian Zhou also became a double gold medallist at the Games with victories in the T54 100 and T54 1,500m.
Reigning men’s AbbottWMM series champion Daniel Romanchuk earned gold in the T54 400m with the veteran Marcel Hug winning the 5,000m, 1,500m and 800m.
Canada’s Brent Lakatos, who won the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon, picked up silver medals in the T53 100m and 400m, plus silver in the T54 5,000m behind Hug.
The action on the track makes way for the road this weekend with the marathon taking place on Sunday.
Schär may start as the women’s favorite following her pre-pandemic dominance of the AbbottWMM series that saw her rattle off nine straight Majors wins, plus a world-record setting victory in Oita at the end of 2019.
Her Majors winning run was ended by the Netherlands’ Nikita den Boer who triumphed in the rain at London’s elite only race in October 2020. Den Boer lines up again in Tokyo.
The strong USA trio of McFadden, Scaroni and Amanda McGrory will be in contention for the title too, as will Australia’s Madison de Rozario, who claimed T53 gold in the 800m and T54 1,500m bronze on the track. She has featured on Majors podiums in recent series’, notably winning London in 2018.
The homegrown threat will come from Japan’s Tsubasa Kina and Wakako Tsuchida. Kina is no stranger to victory on her own patch, having triumphed at the 2020 Tokyo Marathon.
On the men’s side, all eyes will be on the formidable trio of Romanchuk, Hug and Great Britain’s David Weir.
Romanchuk’s power took him all the way to the AbbottWMM Series XII title and he is the clear leader in the current Series, but the experience of his two older rivals means they can make life difficult for the young American in a tactical race.
Should it boil down to a sprint for the men, Lakatos must also be reckoned. His short-distance speed propelled him to victory in Berlin in 2018 and in London last year, and if in a good position he could out-push the race favorites to the line.
The Paralympic marathon will be a scoring race in Series XIII of the Abbott World Marathon Majors, so there will be 25 points up for grabs for whoever can take gold on Sunday.
You can view the current series leaderboards here.