HUMANSDORP-based visually impaired athlete Jaco Smit’s incredible personal triumph at the recent Nedbank National Championships for the Physical Disabled has inspired him with Olympic ideas for 2016.
Smit, 26, returned from the national event in Stellenbosch early this month with gold in the 1500m for visually impaired senior men athletes, and silver in the 800m.
He was just shy of breaking the SA record in 1500m by six seconds.
Ecstatic with the results, Smit’s aim is now to train for a place in the Olympic disabled team which will participate in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in two years.
Smit said he qualified for the national championships after he won at the provincial event that was held in October last year.
“I’m passionate about athletics because this is the sport I wanted to do since I was still at primary school.
“It was a dream come true for me to participate at the national championships because I’ve always wanted to compete in the event but I had no money or sponsor to attend the qualifying event.”
Smit will participate in the up-coming 2014 National Athletics Championships for People with Disability in order to be short listed for the next Paralympic games.
Smit became aware that he could not see that well as a seven-years-old playing rugby at school.
After he was diagnosed with the incurable eye disorder retinitis pigmentosa, Smit decided to participate in athletics and has never looked back.
His coach Bennie Stadler described Smit as an admirable and down to earth young man.
“He has the ability to go far in athletics, even though he has suffered with a few health issues this year that have hampered his training.
“I think with the right support, he has a bright future.” – Mthetho Ndoni