Athletics: Smyth makes Euro history
Published 28/07/2010 | 05:00
LAID-BACK Irish sprinter Jason Smyth (23) made athletics history on two fronts in Barcelona last night.
Huge international media already surrounded him because he was the first Paralympic athlete to race in the European Championships and also found himself in the same 100m heat as France's Christophe Lemaitre, the first white runner to break 10 seconds.
Lemaitre won the heat in 10.19, but jaws dropped when the partially sighted athlete from Eglington blasted down lane one to finish fourth in 10.42.
That grabbed him an automatic qualifying spot for today's 100m semi-finals and he is the first Irishman ever to do so.
Smyth shook off a worrying hamstring injury in recent weeks and credited his training spell alongside double world champion Tyson Gay in Florida this year with helping him make the step up.
"It's not so scary lining up against Lemaitre after training with world-class athletes because you do start to believe you should be competing with these guys," he said.
"For me, it's just about performing well and seeing where it takes me. The evening start suited me, too, because anyone will tell you I'm not a 'morning man'."