Irish sprinter Jason Smyth received a text message from his wife back home after his Paralympic 100m first-round heat Thursday.
“Could you make the gap a little bit bigger because my heart was about to stop,” she told Smyth, the two-time defending Paralympic 100m champion in the T13 division for visually impaired athletes.
Smyth did as he was told. The fastest Paralympian of all time won his third straight 100m gold medal, clocking 10.64 seconds. That time was well off his IPC world record of 10.46 seconds set at the London Games, but Smyth did not need to be in record form Friday.
He won by a comfortable .14, after prevailing in his first-round heat by .05 the day before, worrying his wife back home with the couple’s baby daughter.
“This year there was more pressure, but I’ve been to the Paralympics before and I know how to handle it,” Smyth said. “I know that I’m better than the other guys.”
Smyth, 29, has actually run as fast as 10.22 seconds in 2011, which came outside of para-athletics competition. The Rio Olympic qualifying minimum time was 10.16 seconds.
Smyth may well be years off from his best times, but he is looking at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics already.
“I’ve had a few injuries during the last couple of years, so I have kind of seen this year as the first one in a five-year cycle,” he said.Follow @nzaccardi