Jason Smyth reveals injury torment before winning Paralympic gold

Jason Smyth injury

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Jason Smyth wins his sixth Paralympic gold medal.

Earlier today Ireland’s Jason Smyth sprinted to his sixth Paralympic gold medal. Derryman Smyth competed in the T13 100m final and recorded a time of 10.54 which was just one-hundred of a second faster than Algerian rival Djamil Athmami.

Speaking to Pundit Arena after the race, the Paralympic legend explained how winning gold tasted twice as sweet this time around after a year of injury torment.

“Yeah absolutely delighted,” beamed Smyth. “Obviously most people probably weren’t aware of where the competition has gone and the standard of the sprint. Actually, the Algerian had run quicker than me this year.

The Derryman’s struggle with injuries this year.

“I know I’ve never spoke about it but I’ve had a really really tough year of injuries. Nine months ago I wasn’t sure…could this be me done? Three months ago I’m thinking ‘am I going to make it to the Games and be in the shape I need to?’.

“We got things right right when we needed to. We only raced twice this year and I know I never said it was injuries but it was injuries. I ran my quickest time of the year there and I just have to be very grateful for the team around me – physio, S&C, coaches. There’s a huge amount that goes in behind the scenes to get the athletes to be on the track and then when you get on the track it’s about mentally getting things right and executing.

“Thankfully it’s a nice end to what’s been not a nice year. It’s not been a great year for a lot of people as well.”

Jason Smyth on dealing with the pressure of the Games.

Injuries were the greatest challenge to Smyth ahead of this Summer’s Games but pressure also needed to be managed. With the competition ever improving and a new generation of athlete rising to prominence, the 34-year-old made sure to use his experience to his advantage

“That’s the pressure and expectation that most people don’t know about and have to deal with. You’re there to be shot down and I’ve said I have everything to lose and nothing to gain. As time goes on the odds are faster and faster people are coming and obviously I’m not getting younger either.

“I’ve been here, I’ve done it. This is my fourth Games. Some of these guys are at their first Games so it’s about using that to your advantage – put them under pressure and that’s what I did in the first half of the race. I put them under pressure and ten seconds…you have no time for anything, you’re taking 45 steps in ten seconds so if you’re putting people under pressure they start doing something a little bit different that’s maybe away from what they’d do ordinarily and then you sort of go from there.

“At the end of the race I tightened up a little bit. I could feel him right there and I wasn’t sure if it was me who crossed the line first or someone else!

“I had to go over and ask ‘did I win?’ when Micheál threw me the flag. I wasn’t one hundred percent sure!”

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