Gold and NEW European Championship record for Jason Smyth
22 August 2018
Multi sprint champion Jason Smyth last night added another title to his huge Paralympic collection when he took gold with ease over 200 metres at the World Paralympic European Championships in Berlin.
His winning time of 21.44 secs breaks the European Championship record of 21.84 secs set no less than 13 years ago in Espoo, Finland. Both Jason's victory and time come as no surprise as the 31-year-old Eglinton man has been in top form in recent weeks both in the 100 and 200 metres.
The race took place in warm humid conditions which were ideal for sprinting. It was clear from the gun that Smyth was determined to retain his record of never having lost a Paralympic race. He quickly closed the gap on chief rival Mateusz Michalski of Poland who was in the adjacent outside lane.
Going into the home straight there was a clear gap between the two which did not close. Jason slowed marginally in the last 20 metres but he still had almost a half second advantage on Michalski who was timed at a seasons best of 21.87 secs. Bronze went to Phillip Handler of Switzerland in 23.45 secs.
Jason's time is his fastest since the World Championships in London a year ago when Michalski again had to settle for silver. The win augurs well for later in the week when Smyth will line up for the 100 metres.
Despite his incredible success and the holder of two sprint World records, Jason does not take victory for granted and is always attempting to improve.
He has stated;
"I've seen the sport change a lot. It's still very important to do well in major Championships. I think to be honest that that I can run faster in the next two years. This year a lot of my strength and foundation work has come back ".
The father of two has also commented on what he sees as insufficient recognition of the sport;
"If I had achieved what I have but in another sport I wouldn't have to look at what job I need to do the minute I finish the sport ".
Today's (Wednesday) competition will involve Eve Walsh-Dann from Bangor who races over 200 metres and Sally Brown formerly from Limavady who competes in the 400 metres. The 16-year-old North Down schoolgirl has already defied her tender years by making a major impact in the T36 sprint category for athletes with mild cerebral palsy. She took 2 gold medals in the 100 and 200 metres in last year's European Junior Para Champs in Switzerland.
Eve Walsh-Dann has also proved this season that she is again in top form. In June in the NI Senior Champs in Belfast Eve set a British record in the 100 metres of 14.72 secs. Two weeks later in Newham she captured another British record over 200 metres with a time of 31.34 secs.
This latest achievement should give her a real opportunity to medal in today's final and give her confidence for the 100 metres later in the week.
There are also high hopes for 23-year-old Brown who races over 400 in the T47 category for athletes with a limb deficiency. Sally has been plagued with serious injury since her last major appearance in the London Paralympics in 2012. Sally has suffered a series of fractures which she eventually put down to a poor running technique.
The Loughborough College student whose partner is multi Paralympic star Jonnie Peacock has an ambitious programme this week which involves the 100, 200 and 400 metres. Sally has concentrated on today's 400 final by racing this distance on 4 occasions this season the fastest being 65.81 secs.
She is confident that her new found running style will see her through a testing week.