JASON Smyth showed once again what terrific form he’s in by qualifying for tonight’s final of the T13 200m and barring injury or a false start he must surely retain his Paralympic title and in doing so complete the sprint double just like he did in Beijing four years ago.
Despite destroying the field in his heat and easing up towards the line in a time of 21.48 seconds, he was just five-hundredths outside his own world record.
Such are the high standards he strives for at this level that there was some disappointment afterwards.
“I know I’m in good shape. Honestly I wanted to run a little bit quicker, I wanted to go under the world record because every time I’ve gone out in the Paralympic Games I’ve run a world record so I wanted to keep it going but the main thing is I’m in the final and I’ll come back and hope to run a bit quicker,” said Smyth.
The next fastest qualifier was Russian Alexander Zverev who ran a personal best of 22.18.
“That’s fair enough and it gives me confidence really that I’ve run a good bit quicker than them and anyway it doesn’t matter what anyone else does it’s about coming out and getting my race right and executing my race and hopefully I’m in good enough shape to retain the title,” added Smyth who retained his 100m T3 100m title in style by setting a new world record on his way to gold last Saturday night. Throughout the season, Smyth’s initial goal was making the Olympics in the 100m and so he has hardly competed in the longer distance at all making his run here even more impressive.
“I’ve just done one 200m this year, quite early on in the season and obviously with being so close to the ‘A’ standard in the 100m for the Olympics it just made sense to chase after that but unfortunately that didn’t quite materialise,” he added.
“I’ve just run the one but I know I’m in good shape over the 100m which always stands you in good stead over the 200m and I’ve worked extremely hard over the last few years with the guys over in the United States so I know I’m strong enough as well.”
Now the Usain Bolt double in on the cards.
“That’s the reason I’m here to try and achieve that and to retain the title so I’m going in fastest into the final and that gives me confidence so hopefully I can come out and win,” he added.
Tonight’s final (7.15pm) will also be his last race with coach Stephen Maguire who is leaving to take up a post in Scottish Athletics and he was pleased with yesterday’s run.
“The plan was to run 21.40 and he just eased up a little bit too much but he looked pretty much in control. A heat is a heat and he was so far ahead it’s difficult to gauge the time so he’s fine.”
He added, “Again his training performances would indicate he’s in the shape to run a fast 200m but it’s all about executing his race plan and hopefully in the final he’ll do just that and break the world record.”