Saturday 24 September 2016

Smyth sets Rio target in bid to 'achieve the impossible'

Michael Verney

Published 07/10/2015 | 02:30

Jason Smyth, Deirdre Mongan, and Niamh McCarthy at the announcement of the nine-strong Irish team for the upcoming IPC Paralympic Athletics World Championships in Doha, Qatarer
Jason Smyth, Deirdre Mongan, and Niamh McCarthy at the announcement of the nine-strong Irish team for the upcoming IPC Paralympic Athletics World Championships in Doha, Qatarer

Not content with the title of fastest Paralympian ever, Jason Smyth wants to break new ground and take his place on the Olympic starting blocks in Rio.

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Knee surgery derailed the early part of his season but with the Paralympic World Championships in Doha on the horizon this month, preparations have gone smoothly.

With pangs of regret fresh in the memory after missing out on the London Olympics by four hundredths of a second, the Derry sprinter is determined to make further history.

"Looking back at London I knew I should've run the standard. The more I knew I was capable of it, the more I forced it and that held me back," he said.

"I want to get to Rio. That was part of the surgery this year - it's taking a step back to take two steps forward. Next year I've got to be at it to make that standard.

"I've achieved everything there is to achieve in Paralympic sport and I want to go that little bit more that people haven't gone before. I feel 10.1 seconds is achievable."

Positive

Despite Stargardt's disease resulting in less than 10pc vision, the four-time Paralympic gold medallist is a hive of positivity.

The 28-year-old knows that his fate is in his own hands, and he wouldn't have it any other way.

"People look at Paralympic athletes and think it's not achievable but I know it is. I like to change people's perceptions and do the impossible," he said.

"For me it's the satisfaction that I know I can achieve anything. Whatever I want to do in life, I know I can achieve it.

"The only person that stops us and limits us is ourselves. We put the boundaries and barriers up."

One thing that is out of his hands, however, is the fact that his pregnant wife is due on October 25 and Smyth will skip the 200m race in Doha to travel home that morning.

Blindness affects him on a daily basis but it hasn't stopped him reaching elite level on the track, with Tyson Gay saying his technique is "in the top five in the world."

"I always get asked how it does affect me but the hard thing for me is that I don't know full vision to compare it to," he said. "I know everything I do, like crossing the road. . . is affected. But I tend not to look at it like that.

"It's all about looking at what I can do and I can achieve rather than what I can't. To be the best at anything in the world, anybody would love it. It's great to have it.

"And the onus is on me now to continue that high standard and push forward and do more."

Smyth leads a nine-strong team for the World Championships, which begins on October 22, including Paralympic medallist Orla Barry and double champion Michael McKillop.

Irish Independent

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