Have you heard of David Weir before? He is one of Britain’s most accomplished wheelchair racers, having won a total of six gold medals at the 2008 and 2012 Paralympic games and the London marathon six times.
Weir, however, remains a mere mortal when it comes to the total in his bank account, as the disparity between money-making opportunities offered to nondisabled and disabled athletes continues to be wide. This is why he finally published his autobiography, Weirwolf — My Story, this fall. After all, he is married with two young children and has a family to support.
His family still lives in a two bedroom “council house” in his small town, but the city council has repeatedly denied housing that is more accessible. For someone who has a statue dedicated to him in his hometown, the fact that this is happening is quite bizarre.
This shabby treatment of him over the years has quite enraged Weir.
His anger first came to the surface in 1996 after his Paralympic debut, when he was only 17 years old. It was the Atlanta games and he saw how little nondisabled people are truly interested in Paralympics sport, and at many of his races only a few people were in the stands. He left disheartened.
After Atlanta, he left athletics completely and became a club kid for a few years, dabbling in drugs with his friends. The last thing David wanted was to go back into racing, but after a scary night of a friend having a bad reaction to a drug they took, he decided to call it quits on his experimental lifestyle. By 2004, he was back in shape enough to compete in the Athens games, and since then he’s been consistently successful in life … except making enough money to support his family.
While he had had some sponsorships from BMW and the energy drink company Lucozade Sport, it wasn’t enough, which is why he published his book Weirwolf this year. It has yet to make the bestseller list, but hopefully it will bring him a nice tidy sum.
I think David’s story is definitely one the world needs to hear: You give us equal status in the Olympics, yet the sponsorships are never of the same quality. How can this disparity be fixed? All I know is that it’s maddeningly unfair and I’m glad David has no fear in putting his complaints to paper.
Purchase his book on Amazon: Weirwolf – My Story by David Weir
What do you think will help disabled athletes get more respect?