Time running out for Jason’s Olympic dream

20 June 2012; Sprinter Jason Smyth is aiming to become the first man to compete in the Olympics and Paralympics in the same year. Smyth, who won double gold in the 100 and 200m at the Beijing Paralympics, is one of the country's main medal hopes in the London Paralympics which takes place in August. The Derry born sprinter believes has five more chances to cut 0.04 of his best time and make the Olympic A standard of 10.18. Yesterday he was unveiled as the first brand ambassador for Topaz. A short film about Jason will be available at www.topaz.ie at the weekend. Morton Stadium, Santry, Dublin. Picture credit: Brian Lawless / SPORTSFILE *** NO REPRODUCTION FEE ***

20 June 2012; Sprinter Jason Smyth is aiming to become the first man to compete in the Olympics and Paralympics in the same year. Smyth, who won double gold in the 100 and 200m at the Beijing Paralympics, is one of the country's main medal hopes in the London Paralympics which takes place in August. The Derry born sprinter believes has five more chances to cut 0.04 of his best time and make the Olympic A standard of 10.18. Yesterday he was unveiled as the first brand ambassador for Topaz. A short film about Jason will be available at www.topaz.ie at the weekend. Morton Stadium, Santry, Dublin. Picture credit: Brian Lawless / SPORTSFILE *** NO REPRODUCTION FEE ***

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TIME is not on the side of Eglinton sprinter, Jason Smyth as he sets off for the European Championships in Helsinki on Wednesday with qualification for next month’s London Olympics at the forefront of his mind.

SIMON COLLINS reports

The Paralympic double gold medallist is desperately seeking to run 100 metres in 10.18 seconds before the qualification cut-off point in just 16 days!

On Sunday, July 8th, he will know if he has made the grade to represent Ireland in the 2012 Games and will be able to begin planning his next move.

Should he fail to make the required ‘A Standard’ time, he admits he will have to seriously contemplate changing direction in the sport he has dedicated so much time and money to.

“If I don’t get to the Olympics then it will affect my future plans,” said Jason. “To what extent, I’m not quite sure because there’s so many ifs and buts at this moment in time.

“If things don’t go as I hope, I seriously have to look at whether I can keep doing what I’m doing. It’s not financially easy to sustain living in Florida, living out there and paying for flights. I’ve sacrificed a lot. I don’t really have a life out there, I just train, eat and sleep and that can be quite hard to do.

“I will seriously have to look to see if that is really feasible for me to continue. Four years to Rio de Janeiro (2016 Olympics) is a long way away.

“I’ll have to contemplate if it’s worth continuing. You can’t keep running around putting your heart and soul into something if you’re not going to get something out if it in the end.”

Given the fact that he has already recorded a wind-assisted 10.17 secs. this month and a legal 10.22 secs. from last year, Smyth remains convinced he can meet the qualification time as he attempts to become the first athlete to compete in both the Olympics and Paralympics in the same year.

“I’ve got until July 8th so really what you’re talking about is another two competitions. The European Championships in Helsinki should give me at least two to three rounds to try and run the standard.

“And then the Irish Championships where I’ll be looking at probably another two races. So I would say I have another four or five races to hit the ‘A’ Standard.

“I desperately want to get to the Olympics. I’ve made it hard for myself because I’ll be running in tougher conditions in Helsinki and at home. But I can’t worry about that now. I have four or five chances left and nothing matters outside of those races for me at this moment in time,” concluded the City of Derry Spartan member.