Securing six gold medals in his Paralympic career, Jason Smyth is the fastest Paralympian on the planet.
An Irishman has retained his title as the fastest Paralympian on the planet. Jason Smyth, originally from Derry, won his sixth Paralympic gold medal in Tokyo last week.
Winning the T13 100 m race, the visually-impaired sprinter has won gold in this race for four consecutive Paralympics. He also won the 200 m in Beijing and London before that race was dropped from the Games.
In doing so, Jason Smyth is widely regarded as being one of the greatest para-athletes of all time.
The race – narrowly beating his opponents
Having qualified for the 100m sprint with a time of 10.74 seconds, Jason Smyth went on to race in the final.
Sprinting his fastest time of the season, the 100m was completed in just 10.53 seconds, narrowly beating Algeria’s Skander Djamil Athmani by 0.01 seconds.
Jason didn’t know for certain if he had defeated the Algerian.
He said, “I wasn’t 100 per cent sure. I thought I was slightly ahead, but it was so close, and I knew going into the final speaking to (my coach) that this is the stage I compete on, I have been here and done it.
“The Algerian, this is his first time on this stage, so it was about me trying to put him under pressure.”
However, Jason soon learnt he had beaten him and then received his sixth Paralympic gold medal.
Who is Jason Smyth? – a story of dominance
The 34-year-old took up athletics 18 years ago at the age of 16. Since then, Jason Smyth has competed at a national, European, and international level.
Throughout his 16-year sprinting career, Jason has won 21 gold medals. He also holds multiple records in the 100m and 200m sprints, including the European Championship Record, the World Championship Records, and the Paralympic World Record.
The unbeaten sprinter is unparalleled in the Paralympics world, with CNN saying, “The Olympics has Usain Bolt – the Paralympics has Jason Smyth.”
T13 – legally blind
At the age of eight, Jason was diagnosed with Stargardt’s disease, a condition that affects his central vision.
With less than ten per cent sight, Jason cannot see the finish line when he is running a 100m race. Although legally blind, he uses this to fuel his hunger for success.
“I have been able to win gold medals, retain gold medals, and break world records. For me, if I had full sight, I would never have had those experiences.
“I feel with the challenge of my eyesight I have become a far stronger person, which progressed in me becoming the fastest Paralympian, a dream I would have never imagined when I was younger,” said Jason.
Other notable achievements – bridging the gap
Jason Smyth was the first Paralympian to compete at mainstream European and World Championship events.
He raced against some of the best able-bodied sprinters in the world in 2010 and 2011. Unfortunately, he missed out on qualifying for the London Olympics by just 0.04 seconds.
He is also the fastest man in history in Northern Ireland and the second-fastest man on the island of Ireland. Both are very impressive achievements for any athlete.
What’s next? – Paris 2024
Already thinking about the next Paralympic Games, Jason Smyth has not decided about the next big race. With a wife and two young daughters waiting for him at home, Jason has a decision to make.
“Thinking about it but not clear on what exactly I’m going to do. I did say before the Games that Paris was something I’d be interested in going to, and it still is, but it’s just trying to assess and see where I’m at.”
He continued saying, “I feel there is potential for me to run faster.” Aiming to be faster than his already impressive and world-record-holding times, the fastest Paralympian, Jason Smyth, appears to have some more gas left in the tank when it comes to sprinting.
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