Rainbow-Cooper wins inspired wheelchair marathon silver in Birmingham

·3-min read
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JULY 30: Eden Rainbow-Cooper of Team England celebrates finishing second in the Women's T53/54 Marathon on day two of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at Smithfield on July 30, 2022 on the Birmingham, England. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JULY 30: Eden Rainbow-Cooper of Team England celebrates finishing second in the Women's T53/54 Marathon on day two of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at Smithfield on July 30, 2022 on the Birmingham, England. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

By James Toney in Birmingham

Havant's Eden Rainbow-Cooper admitted both shock and pride as she claimed silver in the Commonwealth Games wheelchair marathon.

Rainbow-Cooper was inspired by watching David Weir win four golds at the London Paralympics a decade ago - now her coach he was on the finish line to greet his emotional charge.

Australia's Madison de Rozario, one of wheelchair racing's top international stars, took gold in a new Games record but Rainbow-Cooper was just under four minutes behind, cracking the two-hour barrier for the first time with a 1:59.45 personal best.

"Everything is racing through my mind, it's hard to make any sense of what I'm thinking right now, I'm just so happy," she said.

"I was just hoping for a personal best but I never in a million years thought I'd win a medal; I was just hoping to enjoy it.

"This is only my second marathons and to be in such an elite field is so inspirational."

Rainbow-Cooper, 21, admitted the twisting turning circuit around Birmingham, which included a series of punishing climbs, pushed her to the limit.

She believes she needs another two years to truly understand the unique requirements of the discipline, which could be the perfect build-up to the Paris Paralympics, just over two years away.

"That course was insane, the gradient on those hills at the end, that really tested me to the limit, I've learned so much in this race," she added.

"I know I need another ten marathons to really get this discipline. I've got a long time to learn it but I'm so excited to get back to working and building on this."

Rainbow-Cooper was born with a condition called Sacral Agenesis, a neurological disorder which affects her body below the waist.

She loved PE at school, but it was watching Weir in 2012 that changed her life, enrolling at his academy in south-west London and working with his coach Jenny Archer.

Weir was there to watch her cross the line, despite his own disappointment. He was looking at guaranteed gold in the men's race before a puncture just six miles from the finish line.

"Being part of this team is really special," she added.

"I've known David Weir since I was a teenager, he's made such a special contribution to my career. We're so close, he's never wavered in our belief in him.

"I'm so disappointed for him but it says everything he was there to say well done to me - he's a legend of sport."

Weir paid tribute to his young charge, despite his own upset.

"I first met her when she was 13, I knew pretty much straight away she was going to be an amazing athlete," he said.

"She works so hard and is so committed. You have to hope this is just the start for her, she's got lots more Commonwealth Games and Paralympics to come but she's got her first medal."

National Lottery players raise more than £30million a week for good causes including vital funding into sport – from grassroots to elite. Find out how your numbers make amazing happen at: www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and get involved by using the hashtag: #TNLAthletes.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting