Gradual gains earn Smith long-awaited GB call-up
Smith narrowly missed out on selection for both the 2012 Paralympic Games and the following year’s World Championships.
However, the former wheelchair rugby player has finally achieved his international ambitions at the age of 38 and will be lining up alongside household names such as David Weir, training partner Hannah Cockroft, Richard Whitehead and Jonny Peacock when the championships kick off in Swansea on Monday.
“I’ve got a new coach in GB wheelchair racing coach Jenni Banks and I’ve been building up to this with new training plans,” said Smith.
“I was quite close for the Paralympics and I just missed out on the World Championships.
“There’s a lot of technicality in wheelchair racing and it’s just a case of getting finely tuned.
“We’re not as restricted as able-bodied athletes with regards our cardio-vascular systems so our careers can be longer and it’s been a gradual improvement building up to this.”
A lack of options in his classification mean Smith, the T52 British record-holder at six distances, will be racing in his less than favoured events of 100m, 400m and 1500m in Swansea.
But, despite this, Smith is hoping he can bring back a medal for his sizeable support team, which will include his father, sister, wife and young son as well as several friends.
“I’m more suited to the long distance stuff which are my preference,” said the four-time Dubai marathon winner.
“You never know in the 400m and the 100m is not my best event - it’s all about the start.
“My best opportunity is in the 1500m, but I’m just happy to be involved.”
Smith will turn his focus back to the longer distances straight after the Europeans with an assault on the Great North Run. Winter will then be spent on stamina work as he targets the 2015 London Marathon.
But, having forced his way into the Great Britain squad, Smith knows he will have to keep working hard to preserve his place as the interest in disability sport swells.
“Disability sport got a lot of coverage after London 2012. It put disability sport in the spotlight.
“That’s why I’m happy the championships are UK-based. It will ensure they get a lot of publicity.
“The number of people getting into the sport is increasing as the awareness grows.
“I train at Warwick University and the number of people coming down and persevering with it are shooting up.
“We’ve got a good group of athletes coming through.”