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Derry City Track Club’s Jason Smyth is the world’s fastest Paralympic athlete and that is official. The two-time double Paralympic gold medalist has confirmed his status after a lightening fast run in Rio this week.

Jason NI Seniors
Jason Smyth

Smyth, who suffers from Stargardt’s Disease which means he only has 10% vision, won a 100m race involving sprinters from all disability classes at an event marking the one-year milestone until next year’s Paralympic Games.

The Eglinton man triumphed in 10.73 seconds, ahead of the American Richard Browne and Brazil’s Petrucio Ferreira. The race at Rio’s Rodrigo de Freitas lake was part of a two-day festival celebrating the games.

Smyth, who holds the 100m record of 10.46 seconds in the T13 class for visually impaired athletes, said the race set him up nicely for next year.

“It was fantastic,” said Smyth. “I am very pleased with the result and even more so because so many people came to watch. The event was very well organized and I’m sure that Rio is on the right track for next year.”

Smyth may be going into a new class next year after being re-categorized to T12 ahead of the 2014 IPC European Championships in Swansea where won both 100 and 200m gold medals.

That reclassification reflected a deterioration of his vision but as one of the biggest stars in the world of Paralympic sport he is looking forward to returning for the games in twelve months time.

“It’s so exciting to be only one year away, we’re getting close. It’s going to be an incredible Games here in Rio,” he said. “I’ve only been here two days and I love the city already. The weather, for winter, is incredible.

“I’ve never been anywhere that is so naturally beautiful and the people have been very friendly, so I think Brazil is going to do a very good job of hosting the Games.”

Smyth has been based in London for the past two years where he is coached by former British international Clarence Callender at the Lea Valley facility. The race is Rio was only his second competitive outing of the year as he prepares for the World IPC Championships in Doha next month.

Conor McIlveen breaks the tape to take gold in Nottingham
Conor McIlveen breaks the tape to take gold in Nottingham

Derry City Track Club may have two competitors in action at the championships with Conor McIlveen awaiting confirmation of his selection for Ireland in the T37 400m.

McIlveen took two gold medals at the World Cerebral Palsy Games in Nottingham last month and contests the British championships in ten days time.

Meantime arrangements are well advanced for the challenge road relay with Acorns AC on the Foyle Greenway next week DCTC will be taking on their Magherafelt rivals in Senior Men, Masters Men and Senior Women relays.


Usain Bolt may have been in headlines in the past fortnight but he is not the only sprint superstar aiming to defend his 100m and 200m titles from the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games in Rio next year. Derry City Track Club’s Jason Smyth, the fastest Paralympic ath
lete on the planet, will also be out to etch his name into history at the first edition of the Games to be held in South America.

Jason Smyth

“Comparisons have been made between me and Bolt,” admitted Smyth, whose world record of 10.46 seconds in the visually impaired T13 class is the fastest time ever posted by a para-athlete, across all classifications. “For me it’s a privilege to be compared to such an incredible athlete both on and off the track, it’s an honour. But Bolt’s got the relay titles too – I need to put together an Irish relay team.”

Relays aside, Smyth confirmed his aim is to come back from Brazil next year with another two gold medals around his neck, saying: “It’s definitely my target, so let’s hope good things happen here in Rio.”

The Eglinton man is currently in Rio where he is to take part in the one year to the Paralympic Games celebrations this weekend. These include a 100m challenge that aims to define the fastest para-athlete on the planet across all classes. This will take place on the second day of a Paralympic Festival on Monday, September 7.

Among Smyth’s rivals will be Australian Evan O’Hanlon, another athlete who will be aiming to defend his 100m and 200m titles from Beijing and London in Rio. O’Hanlon’s world record in the T38 cerebral palsy class of 10.79 seconds is marginally slower than Smyth’s, but Smyth dismissed any talk of being the favourite, instead focusing on what the event means for the Paralympic Movement.

“It’s a great idea and the moment I heard about it I thought, ‘this is a unique opportunity’,” said Smyth. “I’ve been competing in Paralympic sports for 10 years and not once have I had the chance to race against people with different disabilities. It’s all about getting people from all different backgrounds together in a celebration of what Paralympic sports is about.”

Two Derry Track athletes made a quiet start to the autumn season. Amy McDaid had her first competition in 15 months went she took part in the Acorns 5K in Magherafelt. On a tough and hilly course, the Creggan woman was pleased with her 21:09 timing and appreciative of the pacing afforded to her by clubmate Darragh Crossan.

Malcolm McCausland made the crossing to Rathlin Island where local club Foyle Valley were out in force. Again on a testing course, McCausland finished tenth in the 5K race in 21:36.


Derry City Track Club athletes showed no signs of any end of season fatigue as they grabbed another clutch of personal bests at the final track fixture of the year in Belfast. The Derry club’s young stars stole the limelight with fine performances at the Lagan Valley Firmus Super Six Meeting held on the Mary Peters Track.

Matt Doherty impressed at Mary Peters
Matt Doherty impressed at Mary Peters

Teenager Matt Doherty took advantage of the mild conditions to chop over two seconds from his 800m personal best with a 1:56.77 timing for fourth place in the top race of the night. The Bogside youth was in touch from the gun and settled nicely into the pack behind the pacemaker for the opening lap.

He moved wide on the backstraight and challenged for the victory throughout the final furlong. His time was reward was a new personal best and took the 18-year-old to fourth in the NI rankings for his age group. Also impressive was another Derry U20 Shane McGowan who finished a close second in 1:55.30.

“It was obvious that Matt had learned a lot from our recent trip to Manchester,” said DCTC coach Malcolm McCausland. “ Matt did everything right tonight but was simply beaten by better athletes at this moment in time. He has improved enormously this year and he’ll go away now and prepare for the indoor season which starts in January.”

Another teenager Brandon Connolly also caught the eye with a massive personal best in the U17 race. The 16-year-old took over 13 seconds from his previous mark with a 2:09.06 timing. Connolly put in a strong homestraight to clinch the bronze medal spot and will now be looking to target the steeplechase in schools’ competitions next year.

Although 12-year-old Ben Mellon only sliced a few tenths of a second off his 800m best with a 2:44.91 mark, the improvement in his performance was enormous. He was another one who obviously learned from his Manchester experience and attacked the race from the gun.

He held down fourth place in the U13 race for most of the trip but ran out of steam over the last 200m. That did not mean he did not fight all the way to the line and there is no doubt he will be a different athlete with a winter’s work under his belt.

Others to impress on the night were Shaun Deery who ran a sensational last 100m to finish third in the 800m B race and Conor McIlveen who gained an IPC World Championships standard of 2:17.78 in the same race. Andrew Bolster also showed signs of better things to come with a solid run over the 800m distance.

Double Gold for DCTC’s McIlveen

Thursday – August 20, 2015

Derry City Track Club athlete Conor McIlveen impressed with a double gold performance at the 2015 CPISRA World Games in Nottingham. The 25-year-old recorded new personal bests over both 200m and 400m to lift the T38 titles at both distances.

It wasthe first appearance of the 25-year-old Derry City Track Club on the international stage at a Cerebral Palsy event and followed his victories in both events at the Irish championships last month.

Conor McIlveen breaks the tape to take gold in Nottingham

McIlveen opened with a win in the 400m recording 58.22 seconds, the first time he had been under 59 seconds for the distance. He followed that up with another new best of 26.98 seconds in the 200m to leave the opposition trailing in the distance.

“I had a great ten days in Nottingham at the Cerebral Palsy World Games,” said McIlveen. “I met some amazing people who I will never forget. I’m so proud to have competed for Ireland and run at the highest standard that I possibly could against some great runners and athletes.

“I’d like to thank everyone for their assistance and kind words but I would like to thank especially my parents, Susan and Martin Mcilveen, for their support, listening to my running stories and crabbèd moods and no matter what i wanted to do they stood by me and encouraged me 100%.

“The same for my big brother Mark for not just pushing me towards sports but making me a better person overall. I’d like to thanks all my coaches who has got me to where I am including Declan Doherty, Billy Orr and of course Malcolm McCausland who has helped me become the runner I am today,” concluded McIlveen.

The All-State employee makes an early return to the track tonight (Thursday) when he competes over 800m at the Super Six Meeting in Belfast. With the British championships coming up in September, there is no time to be lost for the Derry’s latest golden boy.

Tonight is the penultimate fixture of the season with only 200m and 800m events on the programme at the Mary Peters Track. Matt Doherty will be looking to improve on his best over the 800m distance where Aaron Carlyle and Andrew Bolster make late seasonal debuts.

Shaun Deery also gets back into competition after a mid season break and Ben Mellon will be looking to improve on his best in the U13 age group. New recruit Brandon Connolly should bring a touch of class to the U15 800m following a new personal mark for the metric mile in Manchester last week.

Lily Toorish leaves the opposition trailing in her wake at the Jog in the Bog
Lily Toorish leaves the opposition trailing in her wake at the Jog in the Bog

Meanwhile 12-year-old Lily Toorish made a quite an impact on the local road running community when she took second place in the women’s section at the Jog in the Bog 5K. The Derry City Track Club starlet had been competing in Manchester just two days earlier but showed no sign of fatigue as she flew to a 20:50 clocking behind winner Martina McMullan.

Derry City Track Club will also be contesting Saturday’s President’s Trophy at the Mary Peters Track which for most will be the final competition of a long but very successful summer season.