Ice cool Jason Smyth took his second and Ireland’s third gold medal last night at the IPC Para Athletics World Championships in London. The medal brought the Eglinton man’s World Para Championships personal gold medal tally to seven to go along with his five Paralympic golds.
Smyth was drawn in four giving him an advantage over his main rivals Johannes Nambali and Mateusz Michalski who were in the lanes on his immediate outside. Nambali from Namibia was the defending champion while the Pole Michalski was the relative new kid on the block.
But if there were any doubts about an Irish victory these were quickly dispelled as Smyth blasted out of blocks and had eaten up the stagger on his rivals by the crown of the bend.
The Derry Track Club athlete kept up his phenomenal cadence until well into the homestraight when Nambali and Michalski, in waging war for the silver medal, closed down his advantage approaching the finish line.
Smyth’s winning time of 21.40 was his fastest for the distance since 2013 with Nambali grabbing the runner-up spot in 21.81 while Michalski set a new personal best of 21.86 in the bronze medal position.
It was third time he has done the double at the IPC Worlds starting in Holland back in 2006. He missed the Worlds in New Zealand in 2011 through injury but recovered to win two medals in Lyon two years later. He confined himself to just the 100m in Doha two years ago when he had to dash home early to be present at the birth of his daughter.
Smyth’s ability was spotted at Limavady Grammar School by PE teacher Liz Maguire and she referred him to coach Stephen Maguire who now heads up British Athletics Sprints, Hurdles and Relays.
Although now coached by Clarence Callendar, it was the Strabane man who moulded Smyth into the world class performer we now see dominating the Paralympic sprints. Not that his success in confined to disabled sport, he has also represented Ireland in mainstream athletics, especially memorable being the European Championships in 2010 when he reached the semi-final of the 100 metres.
He competed for Northern Ireland at 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and was only a blink of an eye from qualifying for the 100m at the London Olympics in 2012 when his still personal best clocking of 10.22 seconds was just two-hundredths outside the required standard.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man or in the world of Paralympic athletics, cometh Jason Smyth as the Derry Track Club sprinter served up another scintillating performance at the IPC World Athletics Championships in London.
It brought the Irish medal haul to an impressive two gold and two silver medals for the first weekend of competition.
First Smyth confirmed his status as the fastest Paralympic sprinter on the planet before McKillop rolled out an exhibition of tactical running to make it an Ulster one-two that took the breath away.
Drawn in lane five, Smyth was fastest out of his blocks in the T13 100m final after a false start by his nearest rival Gustavo Araujo of Brazil. After that the Derry Track Club athlete just moved further and further ahead as the race progressed. He crossed the line in 10.63 seconds, his second fastest time of the year and achieved into a slight headwind.
Poland’s Mateus Michalski took advantage of Araujo’s disqualification to snatch the silver medal in 10.95, a mere hundredth of a second ahead of Australia’s Chad Perris.
Michael McKillop made it a second gold for Ireland within a quarter of an hour when he ran a superb tactical race to win the T38 800m. The Glengormley man waited until the final 200m before hitting the front and going on to win in 2:00.92.
Canada’s Liam Stanley looked as though he was going to take the silver medal before falling 30 metres from the line. Australia’s Deon Kenzie came through to fill the runner-up place ahead of Tunisia’s Abbes Saidi.
It was not all good news from the London stadium yesterday as marathon specialist Patrick Monahan was eliminated from the T54 wheelchair 1500m after finishing ninth in his heat.
Earlier on Saturday morning Niamh McCarthy had opened the Irish medal account with a silver in the F41 discus final. The Cork woman’s best throw of 26.17m came in the fifth round and meant she improved on the bronze medal she won at the Worlds in Doha two years ago. The 23-year-old also finished runner-up in the event at last year’s Rio Paralympics.
Orla Barry followed that up with a second silver medal for Ireland when she finished runner-up in the F57 discus with a best throw of 28.89m. Algeria’s Nassima Saifi struck gold with a throw of 34.05, while Mexico’s Floralia Estrada Bernal filled the third spot on the podium. Barry, 26, was also a silver medallist in Rio.
Grete Streimikyte was unlucky to miss out on a medal in the T13 1500m with a fourth place in a season’s best of 4:47.54 behind Morocco’s Samaa Benhama who broke the electronic beam in 4:40.40.
Sean McIntyre reaped the benefit of the hard work put in at training for the past year or more when he lifted the top Junior Men’s prize at the Rathmullan 5K in Donegal.
The St. Joseph’s College pupil paced his race to perfection for the opening four kilometres before applying the pressure to stop the clock at a personal best 17:16. That placed him ninth overall and first Junior by just two seconds from Cranford’s Kevin Logue.
Marina Murphy took no time to rest on her laurels after a victory in the NI & Ulster Senior Women’s 10,000m track title as she flung herself back into road action.
Following similar tactics as her young clubmate, Marina waited until the final kilometre before putting her foot on the gas. An 18:05 timing was among her best ever and good enough to lift the prize for second woman across the finish line.
Ben Mellon (19:23) and David Mellon (20:35) both turned in encouraging performances given the less than ideal weather conditions.
15 July 2017
A strong wind ruled out any personal bests for Derry Track Club athletes competing at the Le Chéile Meeting in Leixlip, Co. Kildare.
Conor McIlveen was arguably the outstanding DTC performer clocking 13.17 seconds for the 100m into a 3.2 m/s as he strives to gain a place at the Commonwealth Games in Australia next Spring.
Martin Cox recorded 4:10.89 in the 1500m while Cathal McLaughlin will have been pleased with his 2:08.20 in the 800m as he puts the final touches to his training in advance of the European Masters’ in Denmark later this month.
Derry Track Club athletes enjoyed what may have been its best ever weekend with a NI relay record, a Commonwealth Games mark, a NI & Ulster Senior title and a clutch of Masters’ medals.
NI Relay Record for Jason Smyth
After the disappointment of failing to hand over the baton at the final changeover in midweek at the Belfast International, the Northern Ireland 4 x 100m squad bounced back with a national record at the Anniversary Games in London.
DTC’s Jason Smyth led off the squad before Christian Robinson, Dean Adams and Leon Reid finished off in 40.35 seconds.
The Eglinton man will be back in action in London later this week when he takes part in the World IPC Championships.
Commonwealth Mark for Adam Kirk-Smith
The Letterkenny International Track & Field Meeting continued to punch well above its weight with a galaxy of stars converging on the Donegal town for an enthralling evening of athletics. And right on cue the fifth edition of the event culminated in yet another sub four minute mile as 22-year-old Texan Robert Domanic just slipped under the once magical figures with a 3:59.98 timing.
Domanic was the only one under four minutes after taking control with 300m remaining. He went on to control the race all the way to the line as the first thee places were filled by US athletes. Clonmel’s Sean Tobin was the first Irish man home in fourth with a 4:01.10 timing.
At least three Northern Ireland athletes came to the meeting in pursuit of a Commonwealth Games consideration mark but only one achieved their goal. It was an emotional night for the one who did as Adam Kirk-Smith was running for the first time in his recently deceased grandmother’s beloved county of birth.
After looking out of it in tenth place with two laps remaining, the London-based Derry Track Club athlete put all that emotion into a sensational final circuit that carried him to within a couple of strides of victory. In the end, he had to settle for fourth spot behind Jordan Mann (8:36.73) as Americans filled the top three spots.
However, he did have the consolation of notching up his second Commonwealth mark in a matter of weeks with an 8:37.41 personal best. That should elevate his standing in the percentage rankings that will determine who represents NI in Australia next April.
Kerry O’Flaherty will have had happy memories of the track where she qualified for the Rio Olympics two years earlier but on this occasion had to settle for fifth place and running 9:59.46; some six seconds outside the mark required to book her flight to the Gold Coast and well behind winner Mel Lawrence of the United States who set an Irish All-Comers’ record of 8:36.65.
It has also been a frustrating season for Christine McMahon as she too struggles to find her best form. That 57.30 mark seemed as far off as ever for the Ballymena & Antrim woman with a second place in 59.00 behind England’s Meghan Beesley (58.32).
Australia’s Michael Konomanyi was disappointed with his 10.88 clocking in winning the 100m but Brazil’s Bruno de Barros had no problem posting a fast 21.41 timing in taking the 200m. England’s Nicholas Atwell put in a strong final straight to win the 400m in 47.86.
American high school indoor mile record holder Drew Hunter was a comfortable victor of the 3000m race in 8:14.95. DTC’s Marty Cox continued to improve with a strong finish to take fifth in a personal best 8:51.74.
Nardhia Kidd-Walker was run all the way to the line by Finn Valley’s Janine Boyle with only two-hundredths of a second separating them on the clock as the English woman prevailed in 25.24 seconds. Kaela Edwards continued the American domination of the middle-distances with a 2:03.38 winning mark in the women’s 800m.
English athletes dominated the field events with Joe Dunderdale winning the javelin with a best throw of 73.41m and Yorkshire man Scott Lincoln reigned supreme in the Shot Putt with a throw of 18.53m. Christina Nick’s 13.10m effort was good enough to land women’s shot putt prize. All threw marks were meeting records.
DTC’s Conor McIlveen continued his pursuit of a place at next year’s Commonwealth Games T38 100m with a 13.14 clocking in the short sprint B race despite a cool headwind. Credit to Sean McIntyre for turning out to support his club colleague and clocking a creditable 13.44 mark.
Marina is Crowned NI & Ulster Senior 10,000m Champion
Marina Murphy put in an inspirational performance to take the NI & Ulster Senior 10,000m title which was run off in conjunction with the provincial Masters’ championships at the Mary Peters Track.
Marina lapped like a metronome in what was essentially a solo run to record an impressive 38:27.68 personal best. It was Marina’s first track title and comes with the demands of holding down a full-time job and being the mother of a young daughter.
DTC’s Masters also excelled with a hat-full of medals at the Masters’ championships. Elaine (400m), Cathal McLaughlin (400m), Adrian Boyle (800m) and Michael Murphy (1500m) all did the green vest proud.
Elsewhere it was an early start on Sunday morning for Ben Mellon and co. who took in the Great Rossa Run at Ardboe, Co. Tyrone. The 14-year-old scorched around a tough course in 19:53 for seventh place.
Dad David Mellon was 12th in 21:07 while Mal McCausland recorded 46:29 in the 10K.
Derry Track Club members scooped a hat-trick of titles at the Irish National Masters’ Track & Field Championships in Tullamore. Cathal McLaughlin moved into a new M50 mage group with dramatic effect lifting both 800m and 1500m titles.
For Marty Cox, it was all new as he made his debut at the championships having only turned 35 earlier in the year. It was also the first time he had competed on the track in any national event.
McLaughlin, nicknamed Vorsprung Durch Technik by his friends on account of a mechanically efficient running action, kicked off the afternoon impressively in the 800m.
The DTC chairman took control at 300m to go before going on for a facile victory in 2:11.85, winning by over a second. He returned to the track later in the afternoon to add the 1500m crown using contrasting tactics. On this occasion, he waited until the final straight before unleashing a strong sprint that saw him home in 4:30.81.
It was a nervous Marty Cox who lined up for the M35 1500m particularly when he carried the weight of favourite. Nevertheless he quickly settled down and kept himself out of trouble during the opening two laps.
The Omagh man found himself at the front of the field soon afterwards but did not panic. A quick glance over his shoulder at 1200m and he was away. Picking up the pace gradually over the final 300m saw him home in 4:11.62, a respectable time after passing 800m in 2:20.