Royal Mail refuse to deliver gold postbox for fastest Paralympian in the world Jason Smyth
Double gold Paralympian Jason Smyth said that Royal Mail should reconsider painting the postbox in his native village gold in honour of his achievements.
The 25-year-old, who is the fastest Paralympian in the world, was speaking as he arrived back in Eglinton, Co Londonderry on Tuesday.
He was also showing off his US bride-to-be, Elise Jordan.
The couple plan to wed in her native Utah on December 29.
Eglinton residents are also seeing red over the fact that the local hero will not be celebrated like others across the UK.
Royal Mail confirmed that it will not be getting out the gold emulsion as Smyth ran for Team Ireland and not Team GB during the Games. Now some residents have threatened to take matters — and paintbrushes — into their own hands and go ahead and paint the village pillarbox anyway.
Jason admitted he might have caused the debate by tweeting that he was looking for a gold postbox.
“It would be nice if they did it,” he said. “It is going to cost a couple of pounds to paint the post ox, it’s not really a big deal.
“It wouldn’t be a bad thing for them to do it either in terms of PR.
“The fact is, we live in the UK technically, so I don’t think it is a big deal.”
Some residents of Eglinton were more forthright in their views.
“Why would they not?” one local woman said. “He’s a hero, not only for us, but he was one of the biggest names in the Paralympics. He is so talented. It’s a pure disgrace that others everywhere get the gold post box and yet Jason Smyth from here can’t have one.”
Another local woman added: “That’s just plain wrong. At the end of the day he comes from Eglinton and that should be enough after all the hard work he put in and all the joy he has brought, not only to the village but to Northern Ireland.
“They should mark his success and his medals so that everyone can see it. Why make a difference?”
SDLP Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey was similarly vexed with Royal Mail.
Mr Ramsey said: “This narrow definition shows great disrespect to those residents of the North who made their communities proud and tested themselves to the limit, but who chose to identify with Team Ireland.
“I will continue to press for a reversal of this ludicrous and disrespectful decision — Royal Mail must deliver.”
A spokeswoman for Royal Mail, however, said yesterday: “What we have done throughout the Olympics and Paralympics was issue gold medal stamps and paint local postboxes gold, but we cannot extend that to people who represented Ireland.”
Jason will now have just a few weeks off before heading back to the US.
“And then it will be the wedding,” he said, adding with a cheeky grin: “The preparations are going well, I’m not the planner, I’m just the turner-upper.
“To be fair, Elise has got almost everything done. I had the excuse of the Paralympics for not having much to do with the wedding planning, and I need to come up with something else now!”
Jason said the wedding will be a small, family affair at a Mormon Church in Elise’s native Utah.
His fiancée, who is also 25, revealed that it was actually through the church that the couple ended up meeting.
Elise said: “Jason’s uncles live in Utah and his uncle is a leader in the church. He thought it would be a good idea to introduce us, and that worked out really well.”