Smyth leads gold rush with another Paralympic record

PARALYMPICS: FOUR weeks ago it was Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah stealing the show, on Saturday night it was Jason Smyth, Michael McKillop and Darragh McDonald, writes Cormac Byrne.

ON a historic night for Irish Paralympics, the Irish trio obliterated their respective opposition and took gold to add to Bethany Firth's heroics in the pool on Friday night.

Derry man Jason Smyth smashed his own world record to win the T13 100m title with his nearest challenger a half a second behind him.

He said: "Beijing was fantastic. It was my first Paralympic Games. But, this without a doubt has been far better. Retaining the titles is a bit more difficult so that makes it a bit sweeter."

McKillop (pictured right with Smyth) followed up Smyth's performance with a commanding victory in the 800m T37 final. The Antrim man, who has cerebral palsy, turned on the after-burners with 300 metres to go and left the rest of the field trailing in his wake.

Gorey native McDonald, a triple amputee, won silver in Beijing but went one better on Saturday, shaving a massive eight seconds off his PB, leaving the rest of the field in his wake.

"From this morning I knew I had more left in the tank but I didn't think there was that much. It is great, it shows how far Paralympics swimming has come in four years," a delighted McDonald said.

McKillop will attempt to make it a double tonight when he goes in the final of the 1,500m (8.47pm). Smyth returns on Thursday for the heats of the 200m, while McDonald returns to the pool tomorrow in the 50m freestyle.

Yesterday, Wicklow's Helen Kearney landed Ireland's first equestrian success of the 2012 Paralympic Games with a remarkable silver medal thanks to a score of 76.700 on Mister Cool. Kearney's score also helped Ireland win the Dressage Team bronze medal.

Catherine Walsh and Fran Meehan added to the medal haul as they won silver in the Para-cycling individual pursuit B final at the Velodrome. The Irish pairing were beaten to gold by New Zealand's Philippa Gray and Laura Thompson.

Meanwhile, Oscar Pistorius and the International Paralympic Committee are to meet to discuss concerns over regulations governing running prostheses after the South African apologised for the timing of his criticism of Brazilian rival Alan Oliveira.

Pistorius, whose own Cheetah blades was subject to stringent testing in 2008 as he sought to compete in the Olympic Games, had a short meeting with the IPC after venting his fury at them for failing to act over the length of some athletes' blades after Oliveira came from way back to pip him at the line in the men's T44 200m last night.

Roddick delays retirement

TENNIS: Novak Djokovic continued his stroll through the US Open draw last night while former champion Andy Roddick staved off retirement by winning in front of 20,000 of his new-found best friends at a raucous Arthur Ashe Stadium.

While Djokovic had a workmanlike 6-3 6-2 6-2 victory over Frenchman Julien Benneteau to reach the fourth round, the stadium turned rowdy watching Roddick's 7-5 7-6 4-6 6-4 triumph over Italy's Fabio Fognini.

Roddick, whose 2003 title at Flushing Meadows was the only grand slam he ever won, blasted 10 aces and struck 39 winners in the three-hour match. Roddick will next play seventh seed Juan Martin del Potro, who beat Argentine compatriot Leonardo Mayer 6-3 7-5 7-6.

Third seed Maria Sharapova survived a scare against Russian compatriot Nadia Petrova to reach the quarter-finals, having trailed 2-0 in the deciding set before claiming a 6-1 4-6 6-4 victory.

Rodriguez defends his lead

CYCLING: Joaquin Rodriguez withstood the attacks of fellow Spaniard Alberto Contador to defend his overall lead on the 15th stage of the Vuelta a Espana.

The stage was won by Caja Rural's Antonio Piedra, who escaped a small breakaway group with 10km to go on the 186.5km stage into Lagos de Covadonga to win in five hours, one minute and 23 seconds.

In the overall standings Rodriguez remains 22 seconds ahead of Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank's Contador, with Movistar's Alejandro Valverde one minute 41 off the lead and Team Sky's Froome now 2:16 in arrears of Rodriguez.

Ireland's Nicolas Roche cracked on the final climb, finishing 10.55 down on the winner in 30th place, and dropped two places to ninth overall. After the race, Roche said: "When Valverde gave his dig, about 6km from the top, I accelerated and stayed in the little group of contenders but when another kick came, I had no legs and was gone."