Sunday 17 November 2019

Ireland's golden moments

Jason Smyth celebrates after winning the 100m T13 final last night
Jason Smyth celebrates after winning the 100m T13 final last night


THE streets of London were paved with gold for Ireland's Paralympians yesterday as Darragh McDonald, Jason Smyth and Michael McKillop all took their place at the top of the podium -- Smyth and McKillop setting new world records on the way.

Derryman Smyth took just 10.46 seconds to secure gold in the T13 100m, while McKillop literally ran away with the T37 800m final, lowering his own world record to a mark of 1:57.22.

Earlier in the pool, McDonald followed up on Bethany Firth's gold medal-winning performance on Friday by winning the 400m freestyle S6 final in 4:55.56, shaving an astonishing seven seconds off his personal best.

Smyth got off to a perfect start and was leading from the outset; the technique he's worked so hard on in Florida with his coaches Lance Brauman and Stephen Maguire setting him apart.

Smyth raised his hands in delight when he crossed the line and was met with rapturous applause from the Irish contingent occupying the stadium when he did his lap of honour.

"I was delighted, you are under pressure to succeed, people already have the medal around your neck before you start, you can't really go up and beyond what is expected. I felt relief and was thankful that the hard work had paid off," said Smyth.

This was Symth's third gold medal having won two in Beijing four years ago. He narrowly missed out on joining South Africa's Oscar Pistorius at the Olympics, his personal best of 10.22 in 2011 just 0.04 of a second outside the A standard required.


McKillop never looked under any pressure in his race. Starting from lane four, he cruised into second place behind Ukrainian Oleksandr Driha before hitting the front just before the bell and pulling away to win in style.

"If you don't enjoy that you'll never enjoy anything in your life," said McKillop after the race.

"I knew exactly what I needed to do, I was 420m out and I went at it and nailed it. I put the hammer down, I got to 200 to go and I looked to the big screen, I knew I had a gap but I hit it again coming down the home straight to make sure."

McKillop, who rooms with Smyth, revealed that they will be resting and recovering after both winning gold but they are hoping for more success. Before his race he watched Smyth and chatted to him on the track after he won gold.

"I told him, I want a bit of that, because I wasn't walking into the room without a gold medal around my neck."

Wexford swimmer Darragh McDonald had a spectacular win in the 400m freestyle.

McDonald established an early lead in front of a big Irish crowd at the Aquatic Centre and, although he was chased hard by Swedish swimmer Anders Olsson who took second place, McDonald never faltered. He won comfortably in 4.55.56, shaving seven seconds off his personal best.

"I didn't think I'd feel anywhere near that good or be that far ahead," said McDonald.

"From this morning I knew I had more left in the tank but I didn't think we'd be looking at that much. To see Anders fall back so far was an amazing feeling. I said to myself before I started that I wasn't going to think about time I was just going to swim on my instinct and swim what felt right and that's what I did."

Smyth and McKillop will hope to add to their medal haul when they take to the track again in search of more gold.

Smyth has his sights set on the 200m on Friday, while McKillop goes in the 1500m on Sunday with both aiming to complete a double-double.

See Page 11

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