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Race to glory Jason Smyth makes history with fourth consecutive T13 100m gold Paralympics medal

Dubbed the ‘Fastest Paralympian on the Planet’, this was his fourth successive 100m title at the Paralympics having won the Beijing, London and Rio.

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Jason Smyth of Ireland celebrates with the tricolour after winning the T13 Men's 100 metre final at the Olympic Stadium on day five of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Jason Smyth of Ireland celebrates with the tricolour after winning the T13 Men's 100 metre final at the Olympic Stadium on day five of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Jason Smyth of Ireland celebrates with the tricolour after winning the T13 Men's 100 metre final at the Olympic Stadium on day five of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Jason Smyth has won another gold medal at the Paralympics.

The 34-year year old Derry sprinter retained his T13 100m title in Tokyo. A brilliant start enabled him to hold off the challenge of his chief rival Djamil Skander Athmani from Algeria by one hundredth of a second in a time of 10.53.

Dubbed the ‘Fastest Paralympian on the Planet’, this was his fourth successive 100m title at the Paralympics having won the Beijing, London and Rio.

He also won the gold medal in the now discontinued 200m at the Beijing and London Games and has never been beaten at the Paralympic Games.

This is Ireland’s second gold medal at the Tokyo Games and their third in all.

He can rightly claim to be one of Ireland greatest ever sporting stars and certainly the most consistent over such an extended period.

As expected it was Athmani, who had been the fastest qualifier, who posed the biggest threat to Smyth’s gold medal ambitions.

Smyth’s excellent start proved the difference. He was the fastest out of the blocks. At the the half back point he had established what looked a winning lead. But over the closing stages of the race Athmani closed the gap.

But in the drive for the line Smyth held on with a seasonal best time of 10.53. Athmani, who was competing in his first Paralympics, set an African record of 10.54.

Speaking to RTE after his victory Smyth acknowledged it was an extremely close race.

“The Algerian ran quite quick in the heats and he had run quicker than I had this year, so I knew I was up against it. When I reflect back on the year I’ve had – it was probably one of the toughest years I ever had with injuries. Nine months ago I was wondering ‘Is this me done?’

“Three months ago I was wondering would I be at the Games and would I be at this level. But we got things right and they came together at the right time.

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“As I keep saying to everybody you see me as the athlete standing out there competing, it’s actually the people around me – the team that makes it happen. Without them I wouldn’t be standing here.

“These people know who they are from on the track, coaches, physio, S&C (strength and conditioning). They put in a huge amount of work.”

Smyth revealed that he hasn’t seen his wife or two daughters since July 10 and he paid tribute to them for their support. “A huge amount of sacrifice and work goes in by so many people. I am just very grateful for everything they do which allows me to get here and cross that line first.”

He acknowledged is the closest finish of his six gold medal performances at the Paralympics.

“I wasn’t one hundred percent sure (whether I had won) when I crossed the line, I thought I was slightly ahead but it was so close. This is the stage I have competed on. I have been here and done it and the this is the first time the Algerian has been on this stage.

“So, it was about me putting him under pressure and I certainly felt I did that over the first half of the race. I tightened up a little bit at the end. But you know you put people under pressure in under ten seconds it makes the room for mistakes and errors. All I can say is than thankfully I was the first person across that line.”

Asked about being dubbed the Fastest Paralympian on the Planet Smyth said he never bought into tags or records.

“As I always say I never get too caught into titles, statements or record. Records are there to be beaten and tonight it was me but that Algerian is right there and another night it could be him.

“For me it’s forget about all that and focus on me and getting me right, getting my race right and after that there is no more you can do. That often brings the results if you can execute your race,” said Smyth, who had run 10.74 in his heat to cruise into the final.

In the T47 high jump Jordan Lee was classified ninth with a best effort of 1.74m.

ARCHERY

Meanwhile, Meath’s Kerrie-Louise Leonard is through to the last eight of the f the Women's Compound Open. She won her head-to-head against an India’s Jyoti Jyoti 141-137 to advance.

Leonard relishes match-play and, against a woman ranked three places ahead of her after the seeding round, demonstrated phenomenal accuracy and fighting spirit over the course of their 15 arrow tussle.

She trailed 26-27 after the first end but then produced two perfect ‘spiders’ (the equivalent of a bullseye) to win the second end 29-25 and lead by three (55-52). Her Indian opponent responded by shooting a faultless third end (30-29) but Kerrie crucially only dropped one point to hold a two-point lead (84-82) ahead of the dramatic fourth end.

Jyoti kept the pressure on by shooting 29 but Kerrie opened with two spiders and then, when her arrow slipped before her third shot, she stopped, re-set herself and produced a third spider to clinch the perfect score (30-29) and move three points clear (114-111).

Both women were less accurate in the final end (27-26) but the 30-year-old from Culmullen, who is Ireland’s first archer in a Paralympic or Olympic Games in 13 years, had already done enough to clinch a famous victory. She next faces Stepanida Artakhinova (RPC) in the last 16 on Monday (02:59am Irish time.

“It feels amazing and I feel vindicated after saying on Friday that I preferred the match-play,” she said." All I was thinking coming out today was ‘don’t fall on your face’ so I’m really delighted.

“I’m buzzing. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want from these Games and what I really want to do is get more people into the sport. I want more para archers, I want to bring them along, I want to create a system for spotting talent in Ireland and nurturing it. So the longer I can stay in this competition and the more visibility I can give to the sport the better.”

POWER LIFTING

In power lifting Britney Arendse had a best lift of 107kgs – a personal best – finished seventh overall.

“I had no idea that I would get the 3PB’s, 1 PB and a bonus medal maybe but I got the 3 PB’s instead and that’s even bigger,” Arendse said.

“106 (kg) was what was decided weeks ago. 107 (kg) was decided literally seconds after I came off the stage. We didn’t think we’d get it but we just said go for it you know.”

SWIMMING

In the heats of the S13 50m freestyle Róisín Ní Riain – who has already contested three swimming final at the Games - was seventh fastest in 28.88. The young Limerick woman will return to the pool tomorrow for one of her favoured events, the Women’s 200m Individual Medley.

WHAT’S ON LATER

In the Equestrian Centre Tamsin Addison will bring the Irish equestrian programme at Tokyo 2020 to an end when she is the final member of Team Ireland to compete in the team event following good performances from Michael Murphy and Kate Kerr Horan in yesterday’s sessions.

Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games Team Ireland Results Day 5

S13 50m Freestyle Heat, Róisín Ní Riain, 28.88 (7th)

Archery 1/16 Eliminations, Women’s Individual Compound Open, Kerrie Leonard (141-137) Qualifies for Last 8

T13 100m heat, Jason Smyth, 10.74. Qualifies for final

T13 100m final, Jason Smyth, 10.53. Wins gold medal

73kg Power Lifting Final, Britney Arendse, 107kg (PB)

T47 High Jump final, Jordan Lee, 1.74m, ninth

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