Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Northern Ireland's Jason Smyth has a golden chance to take on Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake

Stephen Maguire passionately believes there is better to come from four-time Paralympian champion Jason Smyth in the future.

And Smyth's former coach insists that the Eglinton sprinter's ambition of competing against the likes of Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake in the Olympics can still be realised.

With Maguire taking up a new role with Scottish Athletics, he and 25-year-old Smyth amicably parted ways after the Paralympics in London, where the latter won the 100m and 200m in the T13 class breaking world records in the process, just as he did four years earlier in Beijing.

It was the end of a hugely successful sporting partnership, which started when Smyth was a 16-year-old, but unlike some other coaches and athletes, their friendship remains.

“I've been with Jason right from the start and for the relationship to end on a complete high in London with the two of us still on really good terms and friends was as much as we could have asked for,” said Maguire. “I'll still look out for him and make sure his next coaching move is the right one for him and try to advise him.

“I've already told him I'll still be on his back to get training and coaching right.

“I never coached Jason with a label of Paralympic athlete, able bodied athlete or an athlete with a disability. He was coached with the emphasis on realising his full potential and he hasn't realised his full potential yet.

“He's gone a long way to doing

that but I believe there's more to come. He can be more consistent and get stronger. He's a late maturer and I hope he gets to the Olympics in Rio.

“It will be difficult for him because he's getting married soon and once than happens other things can become more important than athletics. He needs to focus 100% and he can do it.”

Smyth had hoped to race in the Olympics but his season's best of 10.22 in the 100m was just outside the 10.18 required standard.

“When he didn't qualify I was very frustrated because he should have run it (10.18) with his ability,” said Maguire.

“After that disappointment though he showed great character to come back and do what he did at the Paralympics.

“Realising it was the last time we would have training sessions and competition together was a weird feeling.

“I really enjoyed coaching Jason — he's a great talent and a great guy.”

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