Smyth flies the flag for Ireland in record time


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The Independent Online

After blitzing to victory in the T43 100m final last night, Jason Smyth paraded in an Irish tricolour emblazoned with the legend "Fastest Paralympian on the planet." The visually-impaired Irish sprinter lived up to his billing, breaking his own world record with a time of 10.46sec.

It was also a good night for the most celebrated Paralympian on the planet. Returning to the scene of his ground-breaking Olympic appearance last month, Oscar Pistorius opened this campaign in style. The South African Blade Runner won his T43/44 200m heat in 21.30sec, breaking his five-year-old world record by 0.28sec. The final of that event comes tonight.

For Smyth, there is already a gold in the bag. The 25-year-old Derry man, who spends eight months a year working out with Tyson Gay at Clermont in Florida, could hardly have been a more convincing winner. He shot from his blocks and came home 0.40sec clear of his rivals, his time taking 0.08sec off the world record he set in the heats.

Smyth has run faster in able-bodied competition. He clocked 10.22sec in May last year, just 0.04sec shy of the A standard qualifying time for the London Olympics. "It would have been fantastic to come here for the Olympics," he said. "I got oh-so-close and I put a lot of hard work in. But this is very sweet. "

There were three bronze medals for British athletes in the field events. The 41-year-old shot putter Rob Womack from Essex produced a personal best throw of 11.34m to finish third behind the winner, Karol Kozun of Poland. Gemma Prescott, from Cheshire, threw 20.50m to finish third in the T32 club throw, which was won by Tunisia's Maroua Ibrahimi, while Claire Williams from Wales took bronze in the F11/12 discus.