Six-time Paralympic champion Jason Smyth of Ireland retires undefeated

Irish sporting legend Jason Smyth will continue to be a positive influence on the Paralympic Movement as the new strategy manager at Paralympics Ireland 29 Mar 2023
A male athlete holds up an Irish flag behind him as he celebrates a victory in the athletics stadium at Tokyo 2020.
Jason Smyth won a gold medal in the men's 100m T13 at Tokyo 2020 to take his total tally of Paralympic gold medals to six.
ⒸAdam Pretty/Getty Images
By NPC Ireland and IPC

Iconic Irish Paralympian Jason Smyth has announced his retirement from Para athletics on Wednesday, 29 March. The six-time Paralympic champion has decided to hang up his spikes after a career that spanned three decades and four Paralympic Games, including Beijing 2008, London 2012, Rio de Janeiro 2016 and Tokyo 2020.

The 35-year-old Paralympic and world champion retires having never lost a competitive Para athletics event throughout his entire career.

“I think now is the right time for me to step away from competitive Paralympic Sport. I lived and fulfilled the dream and now I hope to support the next generation of Para athletes on their journey," Smyth said. "I have loved my time with Team Ireland and I have had many incredible memories that I will really treasure from my time as an athlete.

"There are so many people that have helped me along the way from my coaches, support staff, to my teammates, partners and my competitors. I would especially like to pay tribute to my incredible and very patient family, especially my wife Elise and my daughters Evie and Lottie.”

Multi-world champion

Jason Smyth was acclaimed during most of his career as the “Fastest Paralympian on the Planet”, with a glittering career which saw him win gold medals in every event in which he competed including six gold medals at the Paralympic Games in the 100m and 200m events. He also claimed eight gold medals at the World Championships, six gold medals at the European Championships and a gold at the World Indoor Championships in the 60m. 

Smyth retires as the current European, world and Paralympic Champion in the event that he helped to redefine, the 100m T13, and he is the current world record holder in his two sprint distances.

His final performance at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games may be remembered among his greatest as he showed all his class to hold off the challenge of Algeria’s Skander Djamil Athmani to edge him out by one hundredth of a second in the men's 100m T13.

Para sport and beyond

The Paralympic legend, who has less than 10% vision due to an eye condition known as Stargardt’s Disease, also competed in non-Paralympic athletics. He won two Athletics Ireland National Championships in the 100m and represented Ireland at two European Athletics Championships, where he reached the semi-finals, as well as the World Athletics Championships, making him the first ever Paralympian to compete in those events.

Smyth also represented Northern Ireland at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. He has run 100m in 10.22 seconds making him the third fastest 100m sprinter in Irish history and the fastest in Northern Irish history.

“I would like to join the world of Paralympic Sport in congratulating Jason on an incredible and historic career," Stephen McNamara, CEO of Paralympics Ireland, said. "He has transcended Paralympic sport and become a true sporting icon thanks to his outstanding successes as an athlete. He truly is one of the greatest ever Irish sportspeople of all time and I believe that will be his legacy.”

Next move

Smyth will continue to be a positive influence on Irish Paralympic Sport after his retirement as he will be joining the staff at Paralympics Ireland. He will take up the role of strategy manager with the organisation, a position set to begin with immediate effect.

“I now look forward to joining my new teammates at Paralympics Ireland. I feel that I have a lot to offer thanks to my experiences as an athlete and as someone that has been in the Paralympic and Disability sporting environment since my youth," Smyth said. "I can’t wait to start this new stage of my career and giving back to the sport that has meant so much to me.”

Stephen McNamara, CEO of Paralympics Ireland, added: “Whilst one part of Jason’s career is coming to an end, another is just beginning," McNamara said. "I am delighted to welcome Jason to the staff of Paralympics Ireland and to work with him to gain the benefit of his experience and his expertise as our new strategy manager. This marks a new era for Paralympics Ireland as we look to advocate more actively on behalf of Irish disability sports and the Irish disability community at large. We will work to positively disrupt the current discourse around disability sport and to shine a spotlight on the incredible ability of sportspersons with a disability and inspire a move to a new outlook on disability.

"I am delighted that we will be able to work alongside Jason who will bring all of his experience to bear as Paralympics Ireland works on behalf of Paralympians, sportspeople with a disability and the disability community.”