Belfast Telegraph

Smyth laps up atmosphere as he powers into 200m World final

 

By Brian Hill

Jason Smyth enjoyed a comfortable passage into the T13 200m final at the World Para-athletics Championships by cruising to victory in his heat in London.

The Irish sprinter and world record holder clocked 21.86 seconds with Poland's Mateusz Michalski second in 22.19.

Smyth was back in action at the London Stadium a day after securing his fourth World title in the T13 100m.

The 30-year-old will race for 200m gold in tonight's final.

Smyth's biggest threat will be long-standing rival Johannes Nambala of Namibia, who won the second heat in 21.97 seconds.

Nambala took silver in the World Championships in Lyon in 2013 behind Smyth when the Ebrington man set a Championship record of 21.05 seconds.

Smyth will again start as favourite for another gold medal in tonight's final. While getting close to his Championship record may be a tall order, he is certainly at a level of fitness which could lead to another very fast time.

Smyth certainly seems to relish competing on the big stage. He said: "You can't describe the atmosphere and excitement when competing. When you are on the track and you are the one the people are cheering, you can't put a price on how incredible that moment is.

"I feel I am coming together to run fast at the right time. I also feel I can improve."

Ballymena's James Hamilton took part in the T20 1,500m event, one of the highest quality races of these Championships. In an event for intellectually impaired athletes, James' GB team-mate Steve Morris set a hot pace from the gun which he eventually paid for.

Morris was hauled in by Championship record holder Michael Brannigan of the US, who took off in the final lap for a convincing victory in 3.53.05, another record, with silver medallist Cristiano Pereira of Portugal setting a European record of 3.55.39.

Morris had to settle for fourth with 24-year-old Hamilton in sixth in a time of 4.01.78, which was his second best of the season.

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