Jason Smyth cemented his place as the fastest Paralympian on the planet last week as he secured an historic treble haul of golds in the 100m.
The sprinter stormed to his third successful Paralympic title, crossing the line in a time of 10.64 ahead of Johannes Nambala of Namibia and Australian Chad Perris, who took times of 10.78 and 10.83.
Smyth has also two 200m Paralympic golds to his name, but cannot contest it this year due to reclassification, but nevertheless the Derry man was elated with his fifth gold.
“This is my third consecutive Games and winning my 5th Paralympic medal is incredible. It is a bit like a fairy tale really. I keep coming to these major championships and winning gold and I just don’t want it to end.
“The turnaround between heats and the final wasn’t ideal. I felt l was able to get through the heats well, doing enough without killing myself. I was ready to go and today, I know I had to step it up another notch. I was able to do that.” Meanwhile Michael McKillop defended is 1500m title in style as he was shadowed constantly around the track in Rio’s Olympic Stadium by Canadian Liam Stanley.
With less than 250m to go McKillop pushed on to create a gap until the finish to replicate the gold he won in London 2012, in a time of 4.12.11.
“This one is special because I’ve come through a really tough time and I’m just glad that I was able to go out and win because of the tough times,” said the Antrim native.
“I had to stay focused and realise what life is about, it’s not just about winning gold medals, it’s about living and being proud to live the life that I have and I’m lucky.
“It’s an incredible experience to live up to people’s expectations once again. It’s mentally tough but when you go to bed two nights in a row and Jason’s got his medal on the bedside table it’s a hard one to take.
“Everyone around us looked at the medal and I avoided it at all costs because I had it in my head that I was going to win my own gold medal.
“I’ll always remember those times but in 2017 I’ll still be there. I’m going to still be fighting and by the time I go to Tokyo I can hang my spikes up with pride.” And Ireland picked up a third medal through Eoghan Clifford in the C3 Individual Pursuit final, as he secured bronze in a time of 3.40.201 after a competitive race-off against Canadian Michael Sametz.
“I didn’t really win that because I’ve better legs, I was in agony from the start with my knee and stuff, I won it because I felt I would let so many people down if I didn’t medal today.
“In training I’ve been very good in the first four laps, but the difference today was whereas normally from my fourth lap to my twelfth lap I don’t drop time, today I was eating time.
“And actually after four laps in the qualifier I thought I would break the Paralympic record, my legs just weren’t up to it. Great I had a buffer because my legs were in bits.”
London-born Katie George Dunlevy and her tandem Eve McCrystal have so far featured in two events and missed out on medal positions but still have the Women’s B coming up, with the time trial this Wednesday and road race on Saturday. Ireland’s youngest team member, 14-year-old Nicole Turner, narrowly missed out on a medal by just 0.5 of a second, but recorded a personal best time of 37.31 in the S6 50m Butterfly final.
“It’s amazing, when I saw the clock it was unbelievable that I took nearly a second off my best time. After watching London four years ago I never thought I’d be at the next Paralympic Games, it’s incredible.”