Athletics: Smyth loses fitness race for worlds
IRISH Paralympic star Jason Smyth has been forced to withdraw from the upcoming Paralympic World Athletics Championships in New Zealand due to injury, WRITES CLIONA FOLEY.
He caused a sensation by becoming the first Paralympian to compete in the European T&F Championships in Barcelona last summer, but has not recovered sufficiently from a lower back stress fracture.
That means the Derry athlete cannot retain his World Championship 100m & 200m crowns from four years ago.
Smyth has been warm-weather training in Portugal in recent weeks in a bid to make it and said he was desperately disappointed. "Unfortunately my training is progressing very slowly and I would not be fit enough to defend my titles."
However, he is expected to return to full training in the New Year and will spend six months of next season training with America's top sprinter Tyson Gay and his coach Lance Braumann in Florida, in a training group that David Gillick has now also joined.
"Unfortunately the lead-in time was just too short to fully rehabilitate Jason's injury," said James Nolan, the head of Irish Paralympic Athletics.
"We are still looking forward to success in Christchurch. All eyes will be on Michael McKillop (current world record holder in the 800m) and Orla Barry (European record holder in discus)."