Smyth targets Olympic standard in Lucerne

JASON SMYTH will have the qualifying standard for next year’s Olympic Games on his mind when he lines up for the 100m at tonight’s Classic meeting in Lucerne.

Smyth, the visually impaired Paralympics champion who made history when he took his talents to last year’s European championships in Barcelona, will be aiming for a time of 10.18secs, which would not only equal the national record set by Paul Hession back in 2007 but would also see him attain the A standard for London 2012.

Smyth’s coach, Stephen Maguire, is confident he is in the right shape to do just that at a meet being televised live on Eurosport (6.30pm).

“The only problem right now would appear to be the conditions,” he said. “At the moment the temperature is barely 13 degrees and it is threatening to bucket down with rain. Hopefully it will rain today and not tomorrow.

“But Jason is in good shape and he is ready. He had a wee setback with an illness around the European Cup in Turkey but he has recovered and I think we are back to where we were.

“The A standard is his target right now and he is in the shape to do it if everything goes right — but you have to realise there is not much room for error in the 100m.”

Smyth, who has been centre of attention in Lucerne, added: “I am in pretty good shape and I’m getting back to where I was. It would be nice to get the (Olympic) A standard here and then get on with it. We’ll see what happens. There is a very good field.”

Another Irishman with the Olympic qualifying standard on his mind is Hession, who holds the national records for all the sprints from 60m up to 200m. He will be having his first race since Cork City Sports when he lines up among a star-studded field for a 200m race that includes Walter Dix, the Beijing Olympic bronze medallist at both 100m and 200m.

Derval O’Rourke has already achieved her Olympic A standard but she will be looking to banish a lot of frustration when she goes to the line for the 100m hurdles.

The pent-up frustration comes from Tuesday night’s visit to Lignano. After an eight-hour delay in Amsterdam she warmed up for the A race but discovered that she was in the B race when she went to the line.

She won the race by the proverbial mile in 12.27secs but she did not get what she or her coaches wanted.

“We were looking for a really competitive race,” Terri Cahill said. “We know that she is really good over the first half of the race and we just wanted to see how she would perform under pressure over the second half but she was so far in front it did not matter.”

“She has achieved her Olympic standard and we decided she would have 10 races leading up to the world championships and we will just mark that down as one of those but she is really disappointed.”

Meanwhile, much of the focus today will be on the opening day of the European junior track and field championships in Tallinn, where Ireland will have big medal hopes in Ciara Mageean in the women’s 1500m and Mark English in the men’s 800m.

Maeve Curley and Emma Prendiville get the programme underway today in the women’s 10,000m walk followed by Killian Barry, Andrew Doyle and Dempsey McGuigan in the qualifying rounds of the hammer. Joanna Mills goes in the first round of the women’s 400m, Liam Brady in the 10,000m final and Liam Markham in the first round heats of the men’s 1500m.


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