Irish paralympic sprinter Jason Smyth, from Eglinton in Derry, broke his own 100m (T13 category* for visually impaired athletes) world record in his first competitive start of the season yesterday recording a time of 10.85 seconds.
Twenty-year-old Smyth set his existing world record of 10.86seconds at the Paralympic Athletics World Championships in 2006, where he won gold in the T13 100m and 200m.
2004 Irish Paralympian Derek Malone was also in action at this weekend’s Paralympic World Cup in Manchester. Malone, who raced in the 400m (T38 category; cerebral palsy) clocked a time of 55.97seconds to take bronze. Malone is chasing an 'A' standard time of 54 seconds to be in contention for selection to the Irish Beijing Paralympic team.
In the velodrome Irish records tumbled. The best results for the eight strong Irish cycling team came in the women’s tandem 3km pursuit final (blind and visually impaired category) where Catherine Walsh and pilot rider Joanna Hickey took bronze; defeating their Chinese counterparts in the ride off. Earlier, in qualification the pair had set a new Irish record at the distance of 3:56.146. They also set a new Irish record in the 1km time trial on Thursday taking 4th overall in 1:18.5.
Irish cyclist Cathal Miller (competing in the locomotor disorder LC1/LC2 category) narrowly missed out on bronze in an exciting ride off against the British representative in the 4km pursuit. In qualifying for the ride off Miller broke his old Irish record for the event recording a time of 5:02.215.
Cerebral Palsy rider Enda Smyth also set two new Irish records in the Manchester velodrome, for the first time breaking four minutes for the 3m pursuit race. Smyth also knocked a second off his Irish 1km record with a time of 1:15.3.
Men’s tandem pairing (blind and visually impaired category) of Michael Delaney and pilot rider David Peelo had a sixth place finish in their 1km time trial, and followed up with a seventh place finish in the match sprint competition. Ireland’s second male tandem pairing of Andrew Fitzgerald and pilot rider John Lynch placed 9th in the 1km time trial in a personal best time, and also placed tenth in the match sprint competition. The Irish team move onto Wales to take part in the Paralympic Grand Prix in Newport this evening (12th May).
The Irish team for the upcoming Paralympic Games in Beijing this September is set to be an impressive 44 in number; the biggest Irish team since Atlanta in 1996.The increase in team size represents a significant achievement by the Paralympic Council of Ireland (PCI) as it is in contrast to that of other western nations who are facing reductions in team size as a result of the escalating number of nations competing at the Games leaving qualification places at a premium.