‘Gold Smyth’ extends his remarkable unbeaten Paralympic sprint record

Derry man pips Algerian to claim his fourth successive T13 100m title in a season’s best 10.53

34-year old Derry native Jason Smyth has won his sixth Paralympic gold medal after edging the T13 100m final in Tokyo. Smyth claimed victory in 10.53 seconds, his fastest time of the season. Video: Paralympic Games / Youtube

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A goldsmith is a person who makes gold articles. Jason Smyth is an athlete who deals solely in gold medals.

“Gold Smyth” is the jazzy moniker attributed to the 34-year-old visually impaired Irish sprinting phenomenon following his sixth Paralympic success in the T13 100m final in Tokyo, which he won in a season’s best 10.53 seconds.

The Derry native had 0.01 of a second to spare at the tape in holding off fast finishing Algerian Skander Djamil Athmani to claim his fourth successive Paralympic T13 100m title – he had twice won the T 13 200 metres in 2008 and 2012 before it was decommissioned – a sequence that is both remarkable for excellence and longevity.

His record in championships beggars belief, 21 gold medals in this his 17th year racing dating back to the European Championships in 2005; he’s never lost a race in European, World or Paralympic sprints.

This time though he was pushed all the way by the 29-year-old Algerian who arrived to the final with the fastest time, winning his heat in 10.59 seconds compared to Smyth’s 10.74.

The Irishman’s blistering start gave him that sliver of leeway at the finish. He wasn’t sure that he had won.

“At the end of the race I tightened up a little. I could feel him right there and I wasn’t sure if it was me crossed first or someone else. I had to go over and ask ‘did I win’ when someone threw me the flag.

“This means more to me because of how close it was and the year I’ve had. In the heats he looked smoother than me. I was not the favourite tonight so yes, to be in my fourth Paralympic Games, in my 17th year, and still unbeaten, I don’t even know what to say.

“All I know is it’s getting harder and harder to maintain that but that’s the challenge of sport. You’ve got to be on your A game constantly. I’m absolutely delighted. Most people probably weren’t aware of where the standard of competition has gone in the sprints.”

Smyth had suggested in the build-up that he would consider going to a fifth Paralympic Games in Paris 2024. His response to the question after the race was a little more circumspect.

“When you’re champion there’s a pressure and expectation people don’t know about. You’re there to be shot down all the time and I have everything to lose and nothing to gain.

“As time goes on there’s faster people coming and I’m not getting younger either. I’d still like to go to Paris but I’ll take the next few weeks and see where I am and where I am going forward with my family and all the people who support me.”

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