An Eastern Cape visually impaired athlete from the little town of Humansdorp is aiming for the bright lights of Tokyo. Jaco Smit is hoping to be part of Team SA for the 2020 Paralympics in Japan.
Smit believes his new training technique and speed will give him gold medal winning potential. He is the current national champion in the T12 category. He is ranked 10th in the world over 400 metres and fourth in the 200 metre sprint.
The 30-year-old visually impaired athlete ran an A-standard time to take the national title in 2017, highest in his category for visually impaired in 2017 where he became SA Champ. He specialises in the 200 and 400 metre events but he hopes to run in the 100 and 400 metre events in Tokyo and has run qualifying times already.
The dedicated speedster also competes with able bodied athletes and clinched bronze medals at the 2017 and 2018 EP championships.
“I didn’t grow up with resources but I trained hard to become where I am, I want to do well for my country and grab opportunities presented to me. My dream since I was a child was to compete in the Paralympics, which I believe I can win a gold medal,” says Smit.
The Eastern Cape Academy of Sport at the Nelson Mandela University is now looking to find more future stars in the province.
“We are on a drive to provide resources and high quality training. We want to find raw talent from rural areas that could represent this country on the international platform. Its a long way but its our obligation to do so. But that will required hard training and right diet,” says strength and conditioning Coach, Jacob le Roux.
Jaco Smit has a busy schedule this year which includes the World Champs in Dubai. He also hopes to compete in the International Grand Prix for the physically disabled in Switzerland and Croatia in May.