Belfast Telegraph

Athletics: Jason Smyth aiming for world glory

By Brian Hill

NI 100 metres record holder Jason Smyth last night completed his final training session before embarking on the most important race of his career in the World Athletics Championships tomorrow.

The 2008 Paralympic gold medalist will be taking to the start line in the first round of the 100 metres in Daegu, Korea.

The 24-year-old's preparations have gone well and he is in upbeat mood for the testing challenge ahead.

“My preparations have gone well in South Korea,” he said. “I have just finished my last session and I am ready for the biggest race of my life.”

The City of Derry sprinter will however need to be at the top of his game in order to qualify for the next round of the sprints such is the quality of the 82-strong entry field.

It has been widely predicted that in the final on Sunday all eight athletes could breach the 10 seconds barrier for the first time. This sort of class inevitably filters down to the early rounds where Smyth will need to get close to his recent NI record of 10.22 seconds if he is to make an impact.

Last summer Jason became the first Paralympic athlete to compete in the European Championships in Barcelona where he ran 10.43 seconds to reach the semi-finals.

This season, with the exception of his new record, all of his sprint times have been similar to his Spanish time as they have fallen within the 10.38 seconds to 10.44 seconds area.

However, a number of his races have been affected by strong headwinds, the most recent being three weeks ago when he took the Irish title at Santry.

Also, Jason's injury free season when combined with the intense atmosphere which he thrives on, might well result in the visually impaired athlete producing something special tomorrow.

Regardless of his performance Smyth will continue to concentrate on his key aim of competing on the biggest stage of all in London 2012.

He already has the “B” qualifying standard along with Portaferry's Ciara Mageean in the 1,500 metres.

The “A” standard requirement is a very tough 10.18 seconds which the Irish Olympic body currently states will be necessary to compete in London.

Jason's event, which is regarded as a key highlight of these Championships, has already been affected by the groin injury withdrawal of Jamaica's Asafa Powell who is the world's fastest sprinter this year with 9.78 seconds.

This could leave the way clear for double Olympic champion Usain Bolt although his best time this year in what he describes as a “comeback season” is only marginally faster than a number of his rivals.

Belfast Telegraph


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