Paralympic star Jason Smyth's Olympic hopes 'on track'

By John HaugheyBBC Sport NI
Stephen Maguire (right) is currently full-time coach of Paralympic star Jason Smyth

Jason Smyth's coach believes the Paralympic sprint star is well placed to qualify for the Olympic Games.

Northern Irishman Smyth has been training alongside top athletes such as American star Tyson Gay at his regular Florida base since November.

Double Paralympic Champion Smyth needs to improve his 100m personal best by .04secs to qualify for the Olympics.

"Everything has gone pretty much perfectly over the last few months," said Smyth's coach Stephen Maguire.

Like South African star Oscar Pistorius, Smyth's main career ambition is to compete at both this year's Olympic and Paralympic Games in London.

Maguire added:"It's easily comparable to last year. Jason is ahead of where he was [this time last year].

"He's stronger and fitter and he's been able to train properly throughout the winter and spring.

"Last year, we were having to adapt everything because he was coming out of a period affected by injuries.

"His speed endurance is ahead and with the speed work we have done at this stage, he looks as if he's quicker than last year."

Smyth will begin his season with a meeting on 19 May at his 'home' track of Clermont in Florida.

A plan to open his campaign with a 200m outing in Miami two weeks ago had to be abandoned because of a minor hamstring twinge and bad weather prevented his appearance at last weekend's meeting in Gainesville.

The Irishman ran his 100m personal best of 10.22 at Clermont last May and he knows full well that the Florida track probably offers him the best location to achieve the London standard of 10.18.

"The timing equipment is going to be on both sides of the track so he's going to be running with a positive breeze and we don't get that in Europe," added Maguire in an interview with BBC Sport Northern Ireland.

"The Clermont meet on the 19th of May is going to be his opening week which is fine.

"Jason has to run quickly in training anyway in the group that he's in, so it's not as if he'll be going in under-prepared speed-wise.

"After Clermont, we've got a meeting in Orlando on 26 May and then it's back to Clermont on 2 June before the Diamond League meet in New York on 9 June which he has got an invite to again this year.

"Of course, if he gets the Olympic standard early on, the programme may be revised."

Maguire will continue to work with Smyth until the autumn when he takes up a role as Scottish Athletics' director of coaching.