Jason Smyth: Mormon Athlete
Jason Smyth is a sprinter competing in the T13 disability sport classification due to blindness. He also competes in elite non-Paralympic competitions. He was diagnosed at eight-years-old with Stargardt’s disease, a genetic condition where cells in the retina die and destroy central vision.
Smyth won two gold medals for Ireland at the 2008 Summer Paralympics held in Beijing and set records in the men’s 100-meters and the men’s 200-meters races. He hoped to compete in both the Paralympics and the Olympics in 2012, but fell short by .04 seconds to win a spot on the Olympic team. In the 2012 Paralympics held in London, he took two more gold medals in both the 100 meters and the 200 meters. His time of 10.54 seconds in the first heat broke the World Record. He then broke his record in the final with a time of 10.46. This time was the fastest Paralympic 100 meters in history.
The 200-meters race was eliminated from the T13 category for the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio, so Smyth consequently competed only in the 100-meters race and won the gold medal with a time of 10.64. (He damaged a knee while lifting weights after the London Games and he has never recovered his speed, despite corrective surgery.)
Smyth holds gold medals from the IPC Athletics World Championships (two from 2013 Lyon, one from 2015 Doha) and from the IPC European Championships (two from 2014 Swansea). He won a bronze medal with the Irish relay team in the 4x100-meter relay at the 2011 European Team Championships.
Smyth is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He and his wife, Elise, are the parents of one daughter. Smyth’s grandparents were among the first in Ireland to join the Church.