Eglinton sprinter Jason Smyth reaffirmed his position as the fastest paralympian on the planet by clinching his fifth world title with victory in Saturday’s T13 100 Paralympic Athletics World Championship final in Doha.
Smyth’s victory capped a superb day for the Irish team with middle distance runner Michael McKillop also taking gold in the T3 800m and with the Eglinton sprinter and his wife expecting their first child this week, the 10.62 second run was the perfect start to what will hopefully be a memorable week for Smyth.
“It was great to get out there and start competing,” said Smyth about his victory, “It’s been a couple of years since the last Worlds so it’s great to be in Doha and cross the line first. I’m very happy with my time. Obviously you always want to be quicker but at the end of the day, I got gold and that’s all that matters for me.”
Smyth’s latest title is his third at 100m with another two at 200m. The visually impaired sprinter is also world record holder and back to back Paralympic champion at both distances but has spent the majority of his season rehabilitating following knee surgery in January so he will have been delighted to finish his season on such a high. Brazil’s Gustavo Araujo picked up silver in 10.90 with Australia’s Chad Perris third in 10.96.
“Jason has been reporting that he is feeling great in training and watching him here in Doha he looked great in training,” explained Irish team manager James Nolan, “Our physio Jon Faulkner had been reporting in screenings that he is in super shape. Considering all that it was no surprise to see him power to victory yet again in a very good time.”
And just as Smyth’s medal ceremony finished fellow back-to-back double Paralympic champion and world record holder McKillop stepped out onto the track in the final of the T38 800m. In what transpired to be a great race the Australian athlete, Deon Kenzie, led out the field. With about 420m to go, McKillop made a decisive move and kicked on to open up a gap of about 10m on the chasing pack over the back straight. Unsurprisingly they came back to the Irishman after his brave push but McKillop held on to cross the line as world champion in a season’s best of 2:01.31sec with Tunisia’s Abbes Saidi second in a PB 2:02.34sec and Louis Radius third also in a PB 2:05.39sec.
Having only very recently returned to the track following a prolonged and frustrating injury lay off McKillop was naturally delighted with his win.
“This gold medal means a lot to me,” said the Antrim Athlete, “I will forever remember this day, not because of the time but because I never thought I would get to the start line after a really horrific injury. It’s been so tough mentally but thanks to my family, and especially my girlfriend’s support, I am here and I am still unbeaten.”
The Irish team manager added; “Michael did very well to retain his 800m World title. He’s had a rough road with injuries over the past year and his dedication to rehabbing the injuries has allowed him be in a position to win the IPC World championships.”
Obviously you always want to be quicker but at the end of the day, I got gold and that’s all that mattersJason Smyth