Northern Ireland

Jason Smyth is 'starting work experience on Monday'

Jason Smyth Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Jason Smyth holds an undefeated world record time for the T13 100m and 200m racing events

The world's fastest paralympian, Jason Smyth, has revealed he is planning ahead for life after competitive sport, by starting work experience in the financial sector on Monday.

The Team Ireland star returned home to County Londonderry last week, fresh from success at the World Para-athletics Championships in London.

The visually impaired athlete won two golds in the T13 100m and 200m.

The 30 year old said he is aware that his career has a limited shelf life.

In an interview with the BBC's Sunday News programme, Smyth said he was delighted with his latest performance and still plans to compete at the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.

"As long as I feel I can kick on and sustain at that level, I will continue to do so, and once I get to Tokyo I'll probably reassess and see where I'm at and where the future is," he said.

Image copyright ©INPHO/James Crombie
Image caption Smyth (right) with fellow paralympic athlete Michael McKillop, who both won two gold medals at the London 2012 Paralympics

The Eglinton para-athlete, however, acknowledged that he is "not getting any younger" and said he had already taken steps for life after his sporting career.

"The hard thing is that people often look at sport and think 'lots of money, flashy lifestyle', and yes, that is the case within certain sports, but a for a lot of sports that's a long way from the reality of the situation," said Smyth.

'Transition'

"I don't think there are a lot of things in place for athletes as they try to transition, because you give 100% to something constantly and so you have to let everything else sit on the backburner."

Far removed from his running career, he revealed that he is interested in finance, and on Monday, he is starting the first of two stints of work experience.

"One is more retail banking, and the other is more in investing and stock-broking, just to get an overview of things to see if I can gain some experience and over the next few years help me transition from sport," said Smyth.

Asked about pursuing a coaching career, he said he had not ruled it out - but added that he would like the opportunity to try something different from the life he has led so far.

"When it comes to things like coaching, there's not really the opportunities, there's no money in it," he said.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Jason Smyth remains the world’s fastest para-athlete

Smyth is confident that the qualities which brought him success in his professional sporting career will propel him further in whatever path he chooses to follow.

"A lot of those characteristics you have to learn to be successful in sport are the same things you need to be successful in any walk of life, it's about you transfer them into anything you do," he said.

With no competitions on the horizon until the 2018 Para Athletic Championships, Smyth is wasting no time in moving ahead.

He plans to spend the rest of the summer on work experience, before resuming his training in September.

One thing is for sure, if he does end up working in finance, there will not be many people who can claim to work with a paralympic star who has won dozens of gold medals.

Smyth hopes he can win a few more before swapping sprinting for a desk job.

This interview was broadcast in full on The Sunday News on BBC Radio Ulster on Sunday, 23 July at 13:00 BST. You can listen again on the BBC iPlayer here.

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