Rio Paralympics 2016 Blog: Jason Smyth
For the past two and a half years I’ve been living and training in London with my coach Clarence Callender, who has a sprints group based at Lee Valley, one of the top tracks in England.
A lot of sprint groups head to Florida at this time of year for better weather and high quality training and racing and that is where I am right now. We came out here at the start of April to train at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World in Orlando.
A track is a track but this is Disney so the complex is huge! You name the sport and they can cater for it, I think they’ve got 34 different fields. The Invictus Games (a multi-sport event for injured army personnel set up by Prince Harry) have actually just started here so it is always very busy. This is the third year I’ve come to this training centre. It gives me a great opportunity to get some good training under my belt and also to get out and run fast so, right now, we are ramping things up.
My wife Elise and baby daughter Evie (six months old) are with me. If I'm going away to competitions or just making short trips away I'll leave them behind but seven and a half weeks is a long trip. When I'm away on a long trip I like to bring normal life to where I am. So you work, and then you escape it and come home as normal in the evening. It's great to have them here with me. Sport at this level can be very difficult and you have to be selfish, but I don't feel like I could leave them for that long, it's not fair on them. I just rented a little townhouse about 10 minutes from the track so it's fairly handy. Unfortunately we definitely didn't get a sleeper (!) but, other than that, she is great and, to be honest, has completely changed everything in life for me.
I’m on the track training pretty much every day but each one is different. We usually have two hard days, one day easier, then two hard days and an easier one and then a day off but that changes if we’re competing.
One of the things about coming out here is that you’re guaranteed good races, you’re always going to be running with the wind.
That's a bit of an issue in Europe, they don't necessarily cater for running quick times. The hard thing with sprinting is you need a bit of luck. The things you can't control – like weather and wind - need to be right and you personally need to be running very well at the same time. As a sprinter you're really looking for a lot of things to come together at the same time. You just have to keep putting yourself in that position and then, whatever happens, happens.
I’ve already raced once and had planned to do another couple but the weather – thunderstorms and lightning last week – knocked that on the head. When the lightning comes down here the meets get delayed. You could have had your lunch at 12, start warming up at 2 o'clock and then racing can be delayed until 6 o'clock, so that just messes everything up. My first race, in Clermont, went alright, I ran 10:45 seconds. I wasn’t over the moon about it but, as I’m getting back from surgery last year when the fastest I ran was 10:50, it was a step in the right direction.
I need to start moving on fairly quickly if the Olympics’ (qualifying time of 10:16.) is going to happen. I’m racing again on May 14 and that will be my last race here before I head back home.
Jason Smyth (28), a visually impaired sprinter from Derry, is officially the ‘fastest Paralympian on the planet' with personal bests of 10:22 and 20:94 seconds in the 100m and 200m sprint.
He won T13 gold in 100m & 200m at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 Paralympics and aims to retain his titles at the Rio Paralympics (Sept 7-18, 2016). His 100m best is the second fastest ever by an Irishman, and he is also one of only 10 Irish men to ever break 21 seconds in the 200m. He missed the A qualification standard for the 2012 London Olympics by just four hundredths of a second and has set himself the same ‘double’ target for Rio.
Date:August 12th, 2016