Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Jason Smyth makes it a golden double at the IPC Athletics World Championships

Jason Smyth earns his second gold at the World Championships in Lyon

Double London Paralympic champion Jason Smyth secured his second gold medal in emphatic fashion yesterday at the IPC Athletics World Championships in Lyon . As anticipated the City of Derry athlete crossed the line well ahead of his rivals for victory in a new Championship record time of 10.61 secs.

This latest win has replicated the level of success achieved by NI's two highly successful paralympic athletes in last year's London Olympics. Smyth and middle distance star Michael McKillop from Glengormley have now captured 4 gold medals in 5 days in Lyon. This has comprised two Championship records , one world record and another world record equalled. After Jason's semi-final 100 metres race he tweeted that he was chilling out and "getting ready to kick his performance in the final up a notch or two ".

This was no understatement as the 24 year old blasted out of his blocks from the gun in the T13 event for athletes with a visual impairment. He opened an immediate gap on his rivals who included the silver and bronze medallists from his victorious 200 metres race where he equalled his own world record.

Smyth maintained his distinctive sprinting style with a high arm action action right to the line. The gap on his rivals gradually increased to a massive 20 metres at the finish. His winning time beat his day old Championship record of 10.72 secs.

Second place went to the 200 metres bronze medallist Jonathan Ntutu of South Africa in 11.12 secs with Bulgaria's Radoslav Zlatanov taking a surprise bronze in 11.15 secs.

Smyth's superiority was shown by the fact that his winning margin of 0.51 secs was substantially greater than the 0.33 secs gap in the semis.

Afterwards Jason said he was really pleased to get two gold medals in Lyon as he had been forced to miss the last World Championships in Christchurch because of injury. He was sorry that he was not able to get a little closer to his world record of 10.46 secs set in the London Olympics last year.

This latest victory now brings his gold medal tally to four in the World Championships and a further four in the Paralympic Games. Most of these performances have also involved either World Championship best times or outright World Records.

However, the Florida-based athlete has never disguised his ambition to excel against his able bodied colleagues preferably at World and Olympic level. Smyth is one of the very few athletes with a disability who can more than hold his own with able-bodied athletes.

He caused world wide sports media attention when he competed for Ireland over 100 metres in the 2010 European Championships in Barcelona where he reached the semi-finals.

Jason has also represented his country in the European Team Championships over the past three years in addition to winning the Irish title in 2011 and 2012. He also competed for Ireland in the 2011 World Championships in South Korea.

Despite this remarkable success against able bodied competition Smyth will miss the World Championships in Moscow in two weeks time as he does not have the necessary "B" standard qualification time for the 100 metres of 10.21 secs. This is just 0.01 secs faster than Jason's PB which he set in Florida in May 2011. The qualification demands for competing in the Rio Olympics in 2016 will be equally onerous.

The Commonwealth Games next summer in Glasgow offers Jason an easier qualification option with a time requirement of 10.30 secs which equates to one of his times this year which was just marginally over the wind limit. He also has the possibility next year of the IPC World Championships in Swansea and the European able bodied Championships in Zurich.

All in all the Province's best ever sprinter should be exceptinally busy over the next two years assuming the usual injury free proviso.

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