News comes that the double Paralympic champion, Jason Smyth, has had to withdraw from the 2011 IPC Athletics World Championships due to his failure to recover from a back injury which has severely hampered his training and recovery schedule. The Championships take place in Christchurch, New Zealand, from 21 -30 January.
The announcement was made by the Paralympic Council of Ireland who confirmed that Smyth, double Paralympic Champion from Beijing and reigning World Champion, had reluctantly announced his withdrawal from the Championships after he has been unable to recover sufficiently from an injury sustained at the end of the Summer. The Derry athlete, who has a vision impairment, demonstrated his superb form earlier this year when finishing 14th overall at the European Athletics Championships in Barcelona where he became the first Paralympic athlete to compete at the able-bodied event. Smyth’s hopes of retaining his World Championship 100m & 200m crowns from four years ago were finally dashed when recovery from a back injury did not progress as quickly as expected.
Commenting on the announcement, Head of Paralympic Athletics, James Nolan said: “Jason’s professional support team have been doing everything in their power to have him ready for the Paralympic Athletics World Championships, unfortunately the lead in time to the Championships was too short to fully rehabilitate the injury and the right decision has been made to withdraw Jason from the team. This will allow him time to refocus his efforts for his assault on the London 2012 Paralympic Games. We are still looking forward to success in Christchurch, the team is small but strong and all eyes will be on Michael McKillop current World record holder in the 800m and Orla Barry European record holder in Discus.”
Expressing his disappointment , Smyth stated: “I am extremely disappointed that I am unable to compete at the World Championships in Christchurch. Unfortunately my training is progressing very slowly and I would not be fit enough to defend my titles, I’d like to wish my team mates the best of luck at the Championships. I look forward to returning to competition in the Summer and to achieving the London 2012 Paralympic qualification times at the earliest opportunity.”
Although the withdrawal from the team is a blow to Ireland’s medal hopes at the games, the team of eight remaining athletes who will travel to Christchurch in January contains a blend of youth and experience with names such as Michael McKillop and Garrett Culliton alongside World Championship debutants Ray O’Dwyer, Ailish Dunne and Nadine Lattimore. SportsNewsIreland will be bringing you news of the Irish competitors throughout the Championships.