THE FASTEST PARALYMPIAN in history, Jason Smyth of Ireland, said in an interview published today that he is frustrated at being omitted from London’s Anniversary Games given that the legacy of the Paralympics was to promote disabled sport.
The sprinter, who has the genetic eye condition Stargardt’s disease that gives him only 10 percent vision, defended his 100m and 200m T13 titles from Beijing in style at the London Paralympics last September.
But despite being one of the Games’ most outstanding performers — he won the 100m in 10.46sec and the 200m in 21.05sec — he is not on the bill for the three-day event at the Olympic Stadium in east London in July.
“I’ve heard absolutely nothing about the Anniversary Games,” Smyth, who trains with US sprint star Tyson Gay in Florida and narrowly missed out on an Olympics berth for Ireland last year, was quoted as saying on the BBC website.
British Paralympic star Jonny Peacock, who won 100m gold in the T44 race for below-the-leg amputees, is in the line-up for the event, which takes place exactly a year since the Olympics opened in the British capital. Quadruple 100m and 200m gold medallist Usain Bolt takes top billing, with heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis and 5,000m and 10,000m victor Mo Farah also featuring.
But with London having staged the biggest Paralympics to date, in front of full houses and with athletes who became household names, Smyth said he was confused at the decision to omit top performers.
“You would expect if they want to push Paralympic sport forward and make it more recognised that logically, you would use the best athletes to promote it,” said Smyth.
“You are going to have the Olympic athletes competing just before the Paralympic day and you are going to invite the Usain Bolts and the other top athletes. To me, Paralympic sport should be no different,” he said. “To come out of last year’s games as the fastest Paralympian on the planet — isn’t that somebody you would think you would want to have at the Anniversary Games?”
Smyth, 25, added that he had contacted Paralympics Ireland to make representations on his behalf but had so far heard nothing.
The sprinter’s targets this year are the International Paralympic Committee’s World Championships in July as well as the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships in August.