At the Olympic stadium in Rio, double Paralympic champion and World Record holder, Ireland’s Jason Smyth, progressed into the final of the men’s T13 100m last night in a time of 10.76 seconds. The Derry man, who is aiming for a third successive Paralympic 100m title, established a solid lead midway through the race and maintained his strong form to win in a time of 10.76 seconds, closely followed by his nearest rival Johannes Nambala from Namibia in 10.99 seconds.
Speaking immediately afterwards, Smyth reflected on his performance: “I felt smooth, it’s the heats and it is about getting through the heats and getting through with as little effort as possible. Tomorrow is where it is at. I am happy with getting through.”
James Nolan, Head of Irish Paralympic Athletics, was pleased with the performance: “Jason knew he would have to race hard tonight, with two guys who have run sub 11 in the race. I’m sure he’s happy to get a quality blow out before the final to open up the system.Tomorrow’s final is early Rio time, especially for guys moving at that speed. Jason will need to be up early to get the system awake and ready for battle.”
Smyth’s T13 100m final will take place later today at 15.09 (Irish time) and will be show live on RTÉ 2.
Meanwhile, Ireland’s first finalist of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, James Scully, finished sixth in the S5 200m Freestyle in the Rio Aquatics Centre. Scully, who described the experience as “the pinnacle moment of my career to date”, swam an incredible lifetime best of 2:51.45 spurred on by the 10,000 strong crowd.
The 23-year-old had progressed to the final in a time of 2:53.17, which was, to that point, his second fastest swim ever in the event. His previous best time of 2:53.03 was from the London 2012 Paralympic final and impressively, he bettered that by over a second and a half in last night’s final.
Afterwards, a beaming Scully said: “I’ve been chasing a PB and come up short so many times since London, there’s been so much heartbreak, but to be able to do it, this is when it counts. I knew when I swam 0.1 off it this morning that there was a lot left in the tank and I released it there”.
Clearly delighted, he was full of praise for the Brazilian crowds; “I’m over the moon, 10 out of 10 this is absolutely the pinnacle moment of my career to date. The atmosphere out there, I can’t stress it enough, it will never be matched at another Games, I’m so grateful to Brazil they’ve put on a phenomenal show. People underestimate the crowds, the atmosphere they create, 10,000 people, I know they were screaming for someone else but I went out there and thought they’re screaming for me now, so I embraced the atmosphere.”
Brazil’s Daniel Dias won the event to the delight of the home fans in 2:27.88 while USA’s Roy Perkins touched for Silver in 2:38.56 and Great Britain’s Andrew Mullins claimed Bronze in 2:40.65.
Scully returns to the pool on Monday for the 50m Freestyle heats.
Earlier in the day Ireland’s footballers, who got the toughest possible draw for their opening game in Deodoro went down 6-0 to the tournament top seeds, Ukraine. As things unfolded it was quickly apparent why Ukraine are gold medal favourites in this 7-a-side tournament.
The London Paralympic silver medallists went 1-0 up within 12 minutes, and only some heroic saves from Aaron Tier and timely tackles by Luke Evans and Joe Markey kept the score in the early stages. Then Ukraine’s Molodtsov struck for two goals in as many minutes and a fourth goal in the 26th minute left Barry Ferguson’s side trailing 4-0 at half-time.
Ireland improved considerably in the second-half, when the introduction of Dillon Sheridan gave them more attacking options.The Ballyfermot striker got through for two decent scoring chances but both were saved and another quick two-goal strike from the Ukranians, in the 35th and 38th minute, put the issue beyond doubt.
“It was a tough opener, we are playing the best team and they are going to win the gold medal,” said Ireland boss Barry Ferguson. “I thought we did really well in the second half to keep it to two (goals) as you could see they were looking for 10, which is the maximum you can get on scoring difference.”
Ireland’s next game, in their so called ‘group of death’, is against hosts Brazil on Saturday, September 10th at 23:00 Irish time, and will be carried live on RTÉ 2.
You can read all about the other Team Ireland performances earlier on Day 1 here.
Meanwhile, the youngest member of the Irish team – Nicole Turner – is one of the first to compete on Day 2 in the S6 50m Butterfly Heat at 14:00 Irish time.
Football team v Ukraine:
Ireland – A Tier; J Markey, C Tuite, L Evans (Capt), G Messett, R Nolan, C McKee. Subs – D Sheridan for Nolan (38), C Birt for Tuite (38).
Ukraine – K Symashko; V Trushev, T Dutko, V Romanchuk (12); D Molodtsov (16, 17, 36), VAntoniuk (Capt), A Krasylnykov (13, 37).