"It really seems like 80,000 (in the stands) are Irish so you’ve really got to enjoy it and just make the most of it.”
Ireland’s sprinting sensation Jason Smyth lived up to his moniker as the fastest Paralympian in the world when he sped to victory in the men’s 100m T13 on Saturday evening (1 September).
The reigning world champion got the second evening of track action underway in terrific style, speeding out of the blocks and crossing the line well clear of his rivals.
The 25-year-old broke the world record he set on Friday in the heats when he clocked 10.46, the only finalist to record a sub-11 second time. Luis Felipe Gutierrez clinched silver, adding to the long jump gold he won earlier in the day.
Smyth, who won the Paralympic title in 2008, said: “Coming out of Beijing there was pressure to do the same again, and thankfully I did it. It’s all about these great moments. It’s what everybody watches and sees. It really seems like 80,000 (in the stands) are Irish so you’ve really got to enjoy it and just make the most of it.”
Another Irishman and defending champion in his event, Michael McKillop, took the lead with one lap remaining in the men’s 800m T37, and pulled away to win Ireland’s second track gold of the night clocking a new world-record time of 1:57.22.
“It’s just a relief,” he said after the race. “Last night I was struggling to sleep. You question yourself if you are good enough. It means the world to me to win.”
Yet another world record fell on the track as Evan O’Hanlon successfully defended his Paralympic title in the men’s 100m T38. The 24-year-old powered out of the blocks and stormed home in a time of 10.79.
“I tried to go after the world record,” said O’Hanlon. “For me, probably, I wouldn’t be the winner if I didn’t run a new world record in the process. Now I’ve done it I’ll get ready for the 200m.”
In the women’s 200m T52, Canada’s Michelle Stilwell sped home in the closing 100m to retain the title she won in Beijing four years ago, setting a new Paralympic record in the process.
“It’s fantastic hearing that crowd roaring you on,” said the Canadian. “All I could do was focus on my own race. There’s nothing else I could have done differently. I’m so happy, now I can focus on the 100m.”
Triple Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius received a rapturous welcome from the crowd as he began his quest to retain the titles he won in Beijing. The flash bulbs flickered all around the stadium as the 25-year-old made clear his intentions in the men’s 200m T44, storming home in the third heat to set a new T43 world record of 21.30. His compatriot and roommate Arnu Fourie had already set a new T44 world record in the heat before, clocking 22.57 to finish second behind USA’s Blake Leeper.
In the first heat, Alan Fonteles Cardoso Oliveira powered past Jerome Singleton to lay down his marker ahead of the finals on Sunday. Jim Bob Bizzell, silver medallist in Beijing, also qualified, with David Behre and Christoph Bausch through as fastest losers.
In the women’s 100m T44 heats, Marlou van Rhijn, known as “Blade Babe,” qualified impressively with a new T43 world record ahead of reigning Paralympic champion April Holmes.
Ukraine’s Iurii Tsaruk set a new European record to take gold in the men’s 100m T35 final. Teboho Mokgalagadi took silver, and Fu Xinhan won bronze.
Elena Ivanova’s face was a picture of utter delight as she crossed the line to take gold in the women’s 200m T36, and Margarita Goncharova was victorious in the women’s 100m T38.
In the semi-finals of the women’s 100m T12, Zhou Guohua qualified for Sunday’s final in world-record time, with fellow Chinese sprinter Zhu Daqing winning heat two. The biggest cheers were saved for Britain’s Libby Clegg who won the third heat ahead of defending Paralympic champion Oxana Boturchuk.
The final event on the track, the women’s 200m T46, ensured the crowds were entertained to the end. Yunidis Castillo ran a fabulous bend, maintaining her lead to win gold in 24.45, a new world record.
There were world records galore in the field too. Liu Fuliang set a new world record of 15.20m to take gold in the men’s triple jump F46, having led the field after his first attempt of 15.15m.
Katarzyna Piekart set a new world record in her quest for gold. The Pole threw 41.15m in the women’s javelin F46, with Nataliya Gudkova clinching silver and Madeleine Hogan the bronze.
Yang Liwan won the women’s shot put F54/55/56 with a world record 1057 points (7.50m), and gold in the men’s javelin F33/34 went to Iran’s Mohsen Kaedi with a world record score of 1011 (38.30m).