Paralympians running the 100m in less than 10 seconds?

“Hey, I’m Jason Smith, the fastest Paralympian on the planet.” Is it possible for a Paralympic athlete to run the 100 in under 10 seconds? At eight years of age Jason Smith’s life changed irreversibly with a diagnosis of degenerative eye disease as a teenager he discovered that disability was not something you can run away from and a Gold Medal laden career ensued. In his 30’s Jason is now the fastest athlete on earth in the T13 category. 

Host: “Jason have you always been this fast on track even as a child?”

Jason: “I was always quick but does that mean quick on the track you don’t even know until eventually I got involved thanks to a school teacher.”

Host: “You compete in the t13 category can you give us an idea of your vision limitations and what does it mean within the Paralympic categories?”

Jason: “There’s different levels of version within it and some people have tunnel vision my eye conditions would be the opposite of a condition called Stargardt’s the T13 categories roughly about 5 to 10% vision T12 category up to about  5% and then over T11 is completely blind.”

Host: “For someone watching at home why sometimes they actually see athletes running with a guide and sometimes they don’t.”

Jason: “So you have completely blind who are loaded guide T12 you actually have the option but obviously with guides those rules were the guide can finish ahead of the athlete and things like that and then T13 has no guides at all.”

Host: “What do you see when you’re running what can you pick up?”

Jason: “ I would see a white line and then I’ll see reddy orange track so you start to know where the white lines are it’s hard to anticipate something because you don’t see it until you know it’s it’s necessarily around you see I’m stepping at the finish line but a lot of times I feel like I’m don’t know until I’m there.” 

Des Jennings (Head of Performance Skills, Sport Northern Ireland): “He is stronger probably play some other athletes at the start of the track listening to the start gun, what’s going on the environment, and he’s he’s very much “just about me” so therefore his ability to harness at s really strong.” 

Jason: “I remember I think it was at London 2012 you have that camera on the side and I could just see something dark coloured, and I’m like ‘who’s that.” but it was actually the camera but again like, this normal…”

Host: “And that camera that follows you on the side keeps up with you so…”

Jason:  ‘…the faster you go the faster it goes (laughter).”

Jason: “In sprints people prefer the middle lane and that’s because it’s easier to get a sense of where everybody is around.”

Host: “Do you kind of have the track memorized so you know how many steps it takes you to finish a race?” 

Jason: “I’ll have a rough idea what it needs to be, but I wouldn’t know exactly that moment. Obviously you need to be able to have the right things done and training you need to be in the best shape that you are but what was only between the ears then becomes the real big part that get you over the line.”

Host: “You’ve trained with amazing athletes and take Tyson Gay is one of them as well did help you go faster?”

Jason: “Yeah it was incredible if you want to try to be the best, a good way to do that is learn from the best and learn from people that are better because all it does is make you up your game and my level on my performance moved up.” 

Tom Reynolds (Athlete Development Coach for Athletics Northern Ireland): “He’s one of the best, part of this because he can compete really well with able-bodied athletes he’s actually the  Northern Ireland record holder for the 100 metres outright, so he showed that when there are competitive racers and competitive people against them him he can raise his game and rum really, really fast.”

Host: “Jason you currently hold the world record in the T13 category 10.46 that’s in super impressive time. Do you think you can go faster?” 

Jason: “Yes I can, you see actually my personal best is 10.22 seconds but you’ve got to actually run the world record at a part of a big event and a lot of my competitions I compete at aren’t part of the big events. The honest next step is 10.1 then it’s 10.0. Is it possible?  It absolutely is and if things weren’t possible wouldn’t be standing here, I  wouldn’t have had the success I’ve had and that’s what sport is at the top level is who cares what the limits are it’s about what is possible.”

Have your say