Smyth doubles up with world record
Paralympics:Jason Smyth completed the double-double in scintillating fashion at the Paralympic Games in London this evening as he smashed his own world record by .38 of a second in the T13 200m final to win in a time of 21.05 to pulverise the field.
It was his second gold of the Games following his win in the 100m last Saturday and gives the Derry sprinter the elusive double-double after winning both sprints at the last Games in China.
Smyth left three Russians in his wake, coming home .9 of a second ahead of Alexey Lazin, who ran a personal best of 21.95. Artem Loginov took bronze in a PB of 22.03, while Alexander Zverev came home fourth in a PB of 22.07.
Mark Rohan earlier won his second gold medal of the Games, this time in the H1 48km road race around Brands Hatch.
Rohan (31), from Ballinahown, Co Westmeath, won the 8km hand-cycling race at the same venue on Wednesday and edged out Tobias Fankhauser of Switzerland by just two seconds today to double his haul in London.
Defending champion Wolfgang Schattauer of Austria was third, 15 seconds adrift of the Irishman, who posted a time of one hour 53 minutes and nine seconds over six laps of the circuit.
Rohan, who was an intercounty under-21 footballer before a motorbike accident in November 2001 broke bones in his back, chest, legs and feet, tore his aorta and left him paralysed from the chest down, was among the leaders all the way before he and Fankhauser separated themselves from the pack with a lap-and-half to go.
“This was an amazing race, it was so hard, there were six of us going round the fourth lap,” Rohan said. “The guys we thought would be there weren’t there, so it was a bit of a shock. You start thinking about the time trial, ‘Have those guys saved themselves for this road race?’
“I knew, if it came down to a sprint, I had a good chance to take him (Fankhauser). I had to work hard those last two laps.
“It’s such a relief to get them (two golds). We worked so hard for the last nine months.”
Catherine O’Neill, from New Ross, Wexford, added Ireland’s third silver medal shortly afterwards when coming second in the women’s discus (F51/52/53) with a season's best throw of 5.66m.
Josie Pearson of Britain won gold and broke O’Neill’s previous world record with a throw of 6.58m, while USA’s Zena Cole took home bronze with a throw of 5.25m.
O’Neill is one of Ireland’s most experienced field event athletes, having competed in both Sydney 2000 (sixth) and Beijing 2008 (fourth).
O’Neill could not contain her delight as she said, “My plan was to relax and throw a solid distance early to put pressure on the others. It was baking out there and the noise in the stadium is unbearable particularly when a British athlete was in action. I just needed to stay relaxed.
“I have been waiting for this for a long time. This is my third Paralympics and you cannot understand how much this means to me. I want to thank those who have supported me and stood by me.”
Losing of her world record was the only low point for O’Neill, but she promised to fight hard to regain it.
“I lost my world record today and don’t quite know how to think about that. I will enjoy the moment and look to chase that record back next year.”
Head of Paralympics Ireland Athletics, James Nolan commented, “I am delighted with Catherine’s performance. Her preparation has been very professional. Catherine had a fall during her warm up and I was worried how that might impact her performance but she put that to the back of her mind and just focused on her performance.”
Nolan also revealed the strategy behind today’s performance and indeed how the Wexford woman hit her targets.
“Catherine, myself and her coach Michael Bergon identified between us that 5.65 and 5.70 would finish top three. Catherine went out and executed in her first throw. Coming into this championship the goal was to get Orla or Catherine on a Paralympic Games podium but for both to achieve this is beyond expectation “