Paralympic Athlete Can Break 10 Seconds for 100m, Claims Smyth

25 Nov 2010
Jason Smyth

Jason Smyth at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games.

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A Paralympic athlete will one day break the 10 seconds barrier for the 100m according to the current fastest Paralymian on earth, Irish sprinter Jason Smyth.

Speaking to, the International Paralympic Committee’s website, the 23 year old Irish man said it should not be ruled out that a Paralympic athlete will eventually do what was first achieved by an able bodied athlete in 1968 and run 100m under 10 seconds.

“It is possible. I definitely wouldn’t rule it out,” said Smyth who will be looking to defend his 100m and 200m world titles at next January’s IPC Athletics World Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand.

“Running sub 10 seconds is a lot of hard work, so if it does happen I don’t think it will happen many times, but I definitely wouldn’t rule it out that someone could do it.”

Although American sprinter Jim Hines was the first man to break the 10 seconds barrier 42 years ago it was not until July this year that Frenchman Christophe Lemaitre became the first white man to do the same.

And, despite spending last winter in Florida training with top coach Lance Brauman and his team of elite sprinters, Smyth does not believe he can run under 10 seconds. He is confident though that he has reaped the benefits of training alongside Tyson Gay, a man Smyth found both pleasant and helpful.

“It’s completely different training but extremely good,” said Smyth of his time in Florida. “I was out there last year and was amazed at just how much I improved and how much I learnt. It was great to learn off some of the best in the world.

“Been in that environment of world class athletes and to be training with them constantly meant I had to push hard each session. I couldn’t get away with not having as good a day as them boys who are just so good.

“You sometimes see these world class athletes and you think they just don’t want to know. But, they were very friendly and I remember plenty of times during training Tyson would be chatting away and giving me tips, technically things he saw and thought I needed to improve on,” added Smyth who is currently training in Portugal whilst he awaits his visa to fly back to the U.S. to resume training with Gay.

Even though he spent last winter training with Gay, the second fastest man on earth, modest Smyth did not let on that he had won gold in the 100m and 200m at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games or that he had a visual impairment.

“I would never be one to go round saying I’ve got this wrong with me or I’ve done this or done that, so I kept myself quiet and didn’t speak out,” said Smyth who was diagnosed with Stargardt’s disease aged eight, a condition that causes progressive vision loss.

“I think it was my coach Stephen who ended up telling them at one stage after a few weeks as they didn’t know,” he added.

Smyth was a late starter to Athletics, only taking it up seriously in his final year at school on the recommendation of a teacher. Today his training regime is very different to the two nights a week he used to put in at his local club.

“We usually train six days a week kicking off at half nine,” explained Smyth. “Some days are longer than others. Some days we train until half three and others one o’clock.

“We are in the gym quite a lot, four times a week doing weights, track sessions, we’ve got hurdle mobility sessions, circuits with abs and then we usually have recovery sessions in the pool, so it’s quite intense.

“Last year was my first year out in Florida and it was a massive step up in training and the results were great.”

Smyth will be hoping for more great results next January when he flies to Christchurch to take part in the IPC Athletics World Championships, alongside a whole host of big names including Oscar Pistorius, Marcel Hug and David Weir.