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Jason Smyth taken aback by classification change, but still aiming for the top at IPC Championships

“Since the last time I was classified my eyesight has got worse which is never what you want to hear.”

Smyth was one of the stars of the 2012 Paralympics
Smyth was one of the stars of the 2012 Paralympics
Image: Joseph Johnson/INPHO

DOUBLE PARALYMPIC SPRINT champion Jason Smyth has had to adjust his preparation for the IPC Athletics European Championships which begin tomorrow in Swansea.

A “progression of his visual impairment” (Stargardts disease) has caused the Derry athlete to be reclassified from T13 to T12 for the upcoming Championships.

The 27-year-old admits that the change is a difficult thing to comprehend fully on the eve of a Championship, especially given it relates to much more than just his race options.

“It was not what I was expecting,” Smyth said in a statement from Paralympics Ireland today.

“I have found it hard to get my head around the fact that a few days before my competition everything has changed; the days I am competing, who I compete against…everything.

“It also means since the last time I was classified my eyesight has got worse which is never what you want to hear.”

Changes made by the Paralympics meant that Smyth’s T13 200m had been cut from the schedule for the Rio 2016 Games. As a T12 athlete however, he will once again have two disciplines to cover – albeit not in the capacity of defending champion.

Smyth added: “Saying all that it doesn’t change what I want to achieve. I want to run faster, have more success in Paralympic sport and continue to bridge the gap between Paralympic and able bodied sport.”

Smyth leads a team of eight athletes to the Championships which, for Ireland, will start tomorrow with Heather Jameson in the Women’s T37 100m heats at 10.08 before Smyth goes to the track for his 100m at 10.58. Their 100m finals (if successful) will go to the blocks at 17.20 and 15. 40 respectively.

Tomorrow evening, John McCarthy will line up for the T51 400m final.

Team Ireland at IPC European Championships

Orla Barry (F37 discus)

Andrew Flynn (T13 5000m)

Heather Jameson (T37 100m + long jump)

John McCarthy (T51 100m  + 400m)

Michael Mc Killop (T37 (800m +1500m)

Catherine O’Neill (F32/F51 combined club throw)

Lorraine Regan (F57 shotput, F56 javelin)

Jason Smyth (T12 100m + 200m)

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Sean Farrell

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