Rio Paralympics 2016: Jason Smyth eases into 100m final by winning heat

Jason Smyth finished 0.05 seconds ahead of Namibia's Johannes Nambala in his heat
Jason Smyth was pushed hard by Namibia's Johannes Nambala in the T13 100m heat

Irish Paralympic star Jason Smyth eased into Friday's final of the T13 100m event by winning his heat in a time of 10.76 seconds on Thursday.

The visually impaired sprinter is aiming for a third successive gold medal in the 100m, having triumphed at Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012.

"I have put in the hard work but it's all about stepping it up a gear on Friday," said the Eglinton man.

Smyth set his world record of 10.46 in winning the 100m final four years ago.

The County Londonderry sprinter was challenged strongly in his heat by Namibian Johannes Nambala who finished only 0.05 seconds behind as he clocked a personal best.

Brazilian Gustavo Henrique Araujo, who finished second behind Smyth at last year's IPC World Championships in Doha, scraped into the final as a fastest loser as he clocked 11.16 to finish fourth in the Northern Irishman's heat.

Smyth was a double sprint winner in both Beijing and London but does not have the option of doubling up on this occasion as the International Paralympic Committee opted to remove the 200m from this year's athletics programme.

The 29-year-old has gone as fast as 10.22 in able-bodied competition and showed good form earlier this summer when he came home in 10.39 in Florida.

As an eight year old, the world's fastest Paralympian was diagnosed with the genetic condition, Stargardt's Disease, which has left him with less than 10% of normal vision.

The T13 100m final will take place around 15:00 BST on Friday.

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