Triple gold for Ireland in London
Paralympics:Great things were always expected of this day and, in truth, it turned out better than that. Two of the three gold medals were as nailed on as they ever can be, but the addition of two world records on the track and a personal best in the pool added another dimension.
With a blisteringly fast 100m in his T13 final, a new benchmark of 10.46 seconds, Jason Smyth retained his Paralympic title with half a second to spare of the rest of the field.
His achievement was then replicated by Michael McKillop, the defending T37 800m champion, beat his own world record with ease to bring Ireland’s gold medal tally to four.
The second came in the pool this afternoon, when Darragh McDonald finally got the better of rival Anders Olsson of Sweden and turned his S6 400m freestyle silver from Beijing into gold at London, knocking seven seconds off the personal best he set in the heats this morning.
After Bethany Firth opened the Irish account with gold in the pool yesterday, it was a momentous day for Ireland in London.
The 25-year-old Smyth, who has trained alongside the joint second fastest man in history Tyson Gay in Florida over the last three winters, raced away from the rest of the field to win in 10.46 seconds.
“This just goes to show that if you work hard and apply yourself you can achieve at the greatest level," said Smyth afterwards. “Coming into the Championships I knew I was under pressure to retain my title, so I wanted to do that first and foremost and thankfully I was able to do that. Of course there was the added bonus of a world record.
“Times at championships are irrelevant. It doesn’t matter whether you run ten zero or eleven zero as long as you win. I believe I can run quicker than that again.”
The fastest Paralympian in the world spread his arms wide in celebration as he crossed the line, winning by a margin not even Usain Bolt is accustomed to, ahead of Luis Felipe Gutierrez of Cuba and South African Jonathan Ntutu.
Smyth has run quicker, but only in non-disabled competition. Another Paralympic crown helped make up for the Derry athlete’s disappointment at missing out on Olympic qualification. Smyth, who is visually impaired because of Stargardt disease, was just 0.04secs away from the ‘A’ standard.
McKillop,from from Newtownabbey in Antrim, coasted home in a time of 1:57.22, ahead of Mohamed Charmi of Tunisia (2:01.45) and Brad Scott of Australia (2:02.04).
McDonaldearlier added Ireland’s second gold, following fellow swimmer Bethany Firth to the top of the podium with a dominant performance in his S6 400m freestyle final.
The 18-year-old was untouchable from the start and smashed the personal best he set in the heats this morning, posting a time of 4:55.56 to finish nearly eight seconds ahead of world record holder Anders Olsson of Sweden. The gold comes four years after McDonald was second to Olsson in Beijing.