More than sport: Irish hero Jason Smyth stars in inspirational Paralympics videos
A quick man, a legend of a man, a Derry man.
The fastest Paralympian on earth is ready. Jason Smyth is eyeing a triple double of back-to-back-to-back gold medals and it all starts on September 7 when the Paralympics get up and running.
Smyth, a native of Eglinton on the north coast, is vying for success in the 100m and 200m T13 class yet again but, for him, the journey doesn't start in two weeks' time, it started since he first decided to step a little further and faster. It started when he decided that he wouldn't be encapsulated by his impaired vision.
For Smyth though, he's had to constantly listen to jibes that he's alright, and there's not much wrong with him and that he isn't all that disabled even though his training suffers badly - things he can do and can't, ways he has hurt himself trying to make himself better - his everyday life suffers and his analysis suffers massively.
Not everyone gets it.
"I do feel pressure to perform at Rio," Smyth said. "When you are the reigning champion everyone lined up at the starting line is aiming for one thing - to beat you.
"Now I have not only proven that I am the fastest Paralympian in my category, but the fastest Paralympian on the planet. It feels great to have achieved that, and I have worked hard to get to this point. All I can hope for now is to successfully defend my 100m title in Rio.
"A barrier I continue to face is that my disability is not visible to those around me,” he continued. “While other Paralympic athletes run on blades, need guides, or use a wheelchair, my visual impairment is not obvious to those around me. It causes others to take it less seriously and there has been comments like, “there isn’t even anything wrong with him”.
"I try hard to overcome this by bringing attention to and raising awareness of understanding about visual impairment as I achieve success on the track."
He's not the only hero flying the Irish flag in September.
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