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Commonwealth Games wheelchair marathon won by Gravesend's Johnboy Smith

Kent wheelchair athlete Johnboy Smith claimed gold in the Commonwealth Games marathon this morning.

The 32-year-old from Gravesend capitalised on the misfortune of racing legend David Weir to claim the T53/54 marathon title at Birmingham.

Johnboy Smith won this morning's wheelchair marathon. Picture: Kat Skelton
Johnboy Smith won this morning's wheelchair marathon. Picture: Kat Skelton

Smith, who suffered partial paralysis aged 16 when he was shot by a farmer after being mistaken for a poacher, romped to victory by finishing four minutes and 34 seconds clear of second.

He overtook Weir with less than six miles of the race to go after a puncture ended the 43-year-old's medal hopes.

"It's a surreal moment, hard to take in," Smith told the Commonwealth Games website post-race.

"It was a tough, difficult course, almost impossible. But I've trained so hard for this, for 16 months solid.

"David dropped me at mile five but he was in my sights all the way. He was something like 30-40 seconds in front but I was chasing him down.

'It's a surreal moment, hard to take in...'

"If he hadn't have got that flat I don't know what would have happened. But I could have closed the gap. It would have been a sprint finish. I won by good circumstances.

"I come from a working-class background, there's no airs or graces to me, so all I am going to say is if you have a dream and you put your heart and soul into it, don't let the critics get you down.

"You can achieve the impossible. Whatever creed, race or colour you are."

Smith started out as a powerlifter before switching to javelin, shot put and then discus.

He was world number one in the F55 javelin but saw it scratched from the programme for Rio 2016, which heralded a switch to wheelchair racing.

He quickly shot up the world rankings, and as of today, is a Commonwealth Games gold medalist.

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