Jason Smyth confirmed his status as the ‘fastest paralympian on the planet’ when he stormed to victory in the final of the T13 100m on Saturday night, breaking his own world record in the process and the Co. Londonderry sprinter is now halfway to defending both sprint titles he won in Beijing four years ago.
Just a month after Usain Bolt retained his 100m Olympic title, Smyth, who has only 10 per cent of normal vision, was Bolt-esque as he flew out of the blocks and led by yards at the halfway mark eventually recording a time of 10.46 which knocked eight-tenths of a second off the old world record he set in the semi-final on Friday night.
The margin of victory to Cuba’s Luis Felipe Gutierrez in second place was over half a second as he took silver in 11.02.
“Coming into the Games I knew I was under pressure to retain my title so I wanted to do that first and foremost and thankfully I was able to do that. Of course there was the added bonus of a world record,” said Smyth.
“I’m delighted, I put in so much hard work and you’re under pressure to succeed.
I suppose people already have the medal around your neck before you start so you can’t really go above what’s expected of you so firstly there’s relief and I’m thankful the hard work I’ve put in has paid off.
“This just goes to show that if you work hard and apply yourself you can achieve at the greatest level.”
Smyth, who is supported by the Sports Institute of Northern Ireland, added, “For anyone in any sport its probably easier getting to the top of the sport to start with, but then having to come back and retain your titles is definitely that little bit harder.
“This is only part one completed and I now need to keep focused on the 200m. Obviously this gives me a lot of confidence that I’ve retained my 100m title so hopefully I can come out again in the 200m and produce and we can be standing here talking about some more success.”
Smyth acknowledged that Beijing was “fantastic” but admitted London “has been far better.”
He continued, “As I said retaining the titles in a little bit more difficult so this has been a little bit more sweeter, but when you’re in that stadium, 80,000 people, half of them sound like Irish cheering and the British were supporting me too.
“We’re never going to get a Games this close to home and we’re never probably going to be in the same time zone, we have family and friends here and that makes its so much more special.”
Smyth will now look ahead to fulfiling his dream of competing at an Olympics and Paralympics in the same year when Rio comes around in 2016.
This year he missed out by just four-hundredths of a second.
“Don’t get me wrong, not qualifying for the Olympics was very disappointing, four-hundredths of a second is so close and I put in a lot of hard work to get there and it would have been fantastic to have been here, but there is definitely something more special and sweeter to come to a major event and actually succeeding and coming home with a gold medal,” he said.
The next chapter should be written on Friday night when the T13 200m final takes place.