World’s best racers hail the London Marathon’s move towards prize money parity
The world’s best elite wheelchair athletes have hailed the TCS London Marathon as a game-changer for para-sport – and for society – ahead of Sunday’s battle for the richest-ever prize in the history of wheelchair racing.
With an increase of $57,800 in total prize money for both the men’s and women’s races, plus additional bonuses for course records, the TCS London Marathon has laid down an equality marker for the rest of the sport, according to Britain’s eight-time men’s champion David Weir and fellow greats Marcel Hug, Manuela Schär and Madison de Rozario.
“It’s amazing how much it’s changed in the last 20 years,” said Weir ahead of his 21st consecutive London Marathon.
“It’s taken time and pressure over the years, but we’re so grateful the TCS London Marathon is the first to put the money up like this and be a benchmark for the rest.”
His words were echoed by Hug, the double Paralympic and three-time London champion who will defend his title on Sunday, just one week after storming to victory in the Berlin Marathon.
“It’s great to see how it’s developed in the last few years,” said the Swiss racer who broke the London course record with his dominant victory in 2021. “The future now looks really exciting, especially for younger athletes coming through.”
The men’s and women’s wheelchair winners will each receive $35,000 this year, up from $25,000 in 2021, from a total prize pot of almost $200,000.
“It’s huge for the sport,” agreed Hug’s fellow Swiss and women’s defending champion Schär. “When you look back to where we’ve come from to where we are now, it’s a huge step in the right direction and a signal for the rest of sport.”
Women’s Tokyo Paralympic champion Madison de Rozario was equally effusive, describing the move as “massive”.
“We’ve been talking for ages about wanting to increase the depth of the field in the wheelchair marathon and this is one of the surest ways to do it,” said the Australian.
“It’s not just going to get more athletes here but the development of the sport as a whole is going to be so impacted by this.
“To have the support of the marathons like London, that are helping to build para-sport on a global level, is incredible. I could not feel more privileged to be part of it.”
According to Weir, the move towards prize money parity makes the London Marathon even “bigger” than the Paralympic Games, a sentiment reiterated by De Rozario.
“It’s one of the only places where Paralympic sport is able to be professional,” she said. “That’s not a luxury that we have across the board.
“And within wheelchair racing it is really only on the marathon circuit, only here, where we are able to say that. That’s why it’s so huge.”
A further boost to wheelchair marathon racing came this week when organisers of the Abbott World Marathon Majors announced it would pay equal prize money to Series winners in all categories.
It was a move described by both Weir and Hug as a “dream come true”.
“When I won my first London Marathon I thought I was made,” said 43-year-old Weir, who won his first title 20 years ago. “But I saw I was not getting the same publicity and prize money as the other winners, and it was sad really.
“Now we have a bit of a platform where we can speak to the organisers and they’re listening to us. It’s nice to finally be on a par with the best marathon runners in the world.”
“For me, it’s like a dream come true,” agreed Hug. “It’s a very important sign for the world of sport, and outside of sport too.”
“It’s not just about the way we value disabled people as athletes,” added De Rozario, “but the way we value disabled people as humans.”