Belfast Telegraph

Super Smyth in seventh heaven after completing sprint double

 

By Brian Hill

Jason Smyth produced another devastating display in Tuesday night's World Para Athletics Championships in London when he dominated the T13 200m to take his seventh World Para sprint title, following Sunday's equally decisive victory in the 100m.

Smyth's winning time of 21.40 seconds, in an event for visually impaired athletes, was a huge 0.41 seconds ahead of runner-up Johannes Nambala of Namibia who also had to settle for silver behind Smyth the last time they raced in this event in the Doha World Championships in 2013.

There was a little bit of pre-race uncertainty regarding the Eglinton ace over 200m which is a distance he rarely contests.

However any doubts were quickly dispelled from the gun when he executed one of the fastest starts out of the blocks. He then used his extensive bend training - carried out in Florida - to effectively secure victory with a 20m lead going into the home straight.

Biggest threats Nambala and 100m silver medallist Mateusz Michalski of Poland made strenuous efforts to close the gap and indeed made inroads into Smyth's lead in the final 50m.

It was however too little too late with Nambali snatching second in 21.81 just ahead of Michalski in 21.86.

Smyth's wife Elise was delighted at her husband's second gold medal in 48 hours in the Olympic Stadium.

"That is great. We are so proud. He works so hard and maybe now he is 30 he should take things easier. As he can't drive I take him to the track and see how much work he does," she said.

Smyth's phenomenal success in Para Athletics competition comes down to his amazing ability to adapt to his visual impairment where his central vision is significantly inhibited by a condition known as Stargardt's Disease.

This has resulted in him concentrating on the 100m as opposed to 200m as bend running in the latter event produces added difficulties for him .

While Smyth first made a name for himself in the 2006 World Paralympic Championships in the Netherlands as a 19-year-old, he was already making significant inroads in able bodied races.

This culminated in a NI 100m record of 10.32 in 2010 followed a year later with a new record of 10.22 which still stands today.

At that time Smyth was training regularly in Florida with World class sprinters such as Tyson Gay.

Smyth's NI record was within 0.01 seconds of qualification for the able bodied 100m in the 2013 World Championships in Moscow.

His abilities have secured many NI and Irish able bodied sprint titles. He has also participated in the Europeans and the last Commonwealths in Glasgow.

Earlier this month in the London Stadium he was the lead-off athlete in the NI Relay team which broke the 1998 record, setting a new figure of 40.35.

The assault by NI athletes on golds at these championships is not yet finished. On Saturday Smyth's room mate Michael McKillop hopes to add to his earlier 800m triumph when he defends his 1,500m title, another event in which he has never been defeated.

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