Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Blind Paralympian Wins 100m & 200m Double, In Soccer Malone Stays Expelled...

Jason Smyth pulled of a remarkable double at the Paralympic Games in Beijing today. After winning gold in the 100m, Smyth completed his double by winning the 200m in a new world record time of 21.43 seconds.

Smyth from Co. Derry in Ireland emulated his Usain Bolt in not only winning the double but also in the way he dominated the field in both events.

Going into the Paralympics, Smyth was Ireland's best chance of a medal. He is the current 100m World Paralympic Champion after he had set a new world record time of 10.85 in Manchester in May.

On his way to 100m gold in Beijing, Smyth broke his own World Record twice, eventually storming his way to gold in a time of 10.62. After obliterating the field in a run reminiscent of Usain Bolt's display in the Summer Olympics Smyth spoke of his delight I'm thrilled, it's awesome, I've put in so much hard work ; it's all gone so well. To break my own world record twice in one day...I knew it was there, it was just a matter of coming out and doing it on the big occasion and not letting the nerves effect me, and I'm so pleased I did.

Smyth's coach, Stephen Maguire was also elated with the win Jason has worked so hard, I'm delighted for him, while Liam Harbison, Performance Director of The Paralympics Council of Ireland was overjoyed with Smyth's performance in the Games maintaining that Jason has set high standards all season and showed that he was capable of this kind of performance.

Elsewhere in the Games the Irish Soccer Team minus Derek Malone bowed out of the Soccer Tournament after a 4-2 loss to Holland. Ireland led 2-1 through goals from Finnbarr O'Riordan and Gary Messett but the Dutch came from behind to claim a deserved victory and 5th place in the Tournament.

Earlier in the Paralympic Games, Derek Malone had been disqualified from playing in the soccer tournament after it was deemed he wasn't disabled enough to play in the games.

Liam Harbison of the PCI had questioned the decision and buoyed by a petition from Derek's fellow competitors in the Soccer Tournament the PCI had hoped that the games organisers would reverse their decision. But they held firm and Malone, a pivotal figure in the Irish Team had to watch the remaining two fixtures from the bench.

After Smyth's sensational double today, speculation in Ireland is rife that the blind sprinter could become the first disabled athlete to compete in the Olympic Games. The young sprinter is only 21 and with the next Olympics in Manchester four years away there is time for him to improve his times.

It should be noted at this stage that Smyth is amongst the fastest 100m sprinters in Ireland and hopes are that with further training he would progress to break the elusive 10 second barrier.

If Smyth was able to succeed in following up his incredible feats in Beijing by progressing to the Olympic Games, he would become the first disabled athlete to compete at the games. He may not win, but in competing the Olympic Games would gain an athlete of World Class proportions.

Lets hope, will we?