Jason Smyth claims 100m gold at European Championships
Derry sprinter takes first medal following reclassification to T12
Jason Smyth claimed Ireland’s first gold medal at the IPC Athletics European Championships at Swansea University when he won the T12 100m. Photograph: Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images
Jason Smyth claimed Ireland’s first gold medal at the IPC European Championships in Swansea when he won the 100 metres final at the first time of competing at T12 level.
The Derry sprinter had only been told before the championships of his reclassification from T13 after a new testing method showed a deterioration in Smyth’s eye condition Stargardt’s Disease.
Although he admitted it had affected his build-up, the 27-year-old showed no signs on the track as he blitzed the four-man final to win in a time of 10.78 despite a slow start from the blocks .
In the end he had almost .4 of a second to spare over Russia’s Artem Loginov, who took silver in a time 11.16, while Spain’s Joan Munar Martinez set a personal best of 11.19 to beat Germany’s Thomas Ulbricht to the bronze medal.
“To finish the 100m and get the gold medal there was a relief and a great joy to be here and do well,” said Smyth before discussing his recent reclassification.
“Personally I found it quite tough, to be honest I haven’t quite got my head around it. I feel maybe yesterday I started to and I’ve just kind of said to myself ‘it doesn’t matter – T12, T13 – it doesn’t change what I’m trying to do, achieve and accomplish. Trying to run faster, to continue to have success at paralympic events and continue to try and bridge the gap between able body and paralympic sports. I’m just trying to keep that in my head.”
Smyth also admitted that he has not noticed any deterioration in his eyesight since he started running in paralympic events.
“It’s not something I have noticed, the last time I was tested at an IPC event was back when I started in 2005, so it’s nine years ago and things do deteriorate slightly in nine years, but you’re never going to notice it day in, day out. I feel the same as what I was, but I feel that same as when I didn’t have bad eyes all them years ago as well.”
Heather Jameson also made her final in the T37 100m after coming fifth in her semi-final in a time of 15.44. The 17-year-old from Garristown in Co Dublin couldn’t beat that time in the final, finishing in eighth spot in a time of 15.64. The race was won by French star Mandy Francois-Elie.
A brave bid to make the medals came up short for Cork’s John McCarthy when he came home in fourth spot in the T51 400m wheelchair race.
A strong final bend helped McCarthy into a strong position but he couldn’t get his front wheel ahead of Italy’s Alvise de Vidi, losing out on bronze by just a quarter of a second. Finland’s Toni Piispanen claimed gold ahead of Belgium’s Peter Genyn.