Norfolk wheelchair racer Smith’s London pride
- Credit: Matthew Usher
Norfolk's Will Smith admitted it was men against boys at the Sainsbury's Anniversary Games but the wheelchair racer insists he will bounce back far stronger for his experience.
Still only 17 years old, Smith was part of a star-studded line-up for the one-mile race that included his training partner and mentor David Weir, four times a Paralympic champion in London last year.
And, while Weir streaked to victory just like he did at the Paralympics last summer, Smith came home seventh at the Olympic Stadium in a time of 3:54.79minutes.
But Smith, who attends Dereham Sixth Form College, was far from downhearted after making his bow in the Olympic Stadium and insists he learned invaluable amounts from his time on the big stage.
'It was good – it was tough. It was always going to be tough against the men,' said Smith, pictured, who races for City of Norwich.
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'But it was just great to race alongside some of my heroes in the sport and to get out in front of a crowd like that was brilliant for me. It was great. The whole way around they were cheering you on and there was a real buzz about the place – I really enjoyed it.
'It was always going to be tough against the men and I had nothing to prove. I just wanted to go out and have some fun and I did that.
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'I'm lucky enough to train with David – I have got David as my coach. To push alongside experience like that, it's something that I can't take for granted.'
That marks the end of the season for Smith but, with the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next year, he admits his thoughts are already straying to the next campaign.
'It's kind of quiet now – kind of winding down for the season. I'm going to take a couple of weeks and focus on training and we'll go from there – see what's next,' he added.
'Maybe not the Europeans next year because of my age, but I'm going to aim for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow as my first big senior competition.
'1500 metres is my kind of distance – I'm more endurance than sprint, so it fits perfectly.
'There's no competition with Dave. Dave is Dave and I'm just going to focus on what I'm doing at the moment.
'Ever since the Paralympics last year, it has just raised the profile completely. To have this one year on from the Paralympics is fantastic – we're so lucky to have it.'
n The Sainsbury's Anniversary Games is the final event in the Sainsbury's Summer Series. For more information on Sainsbury's support of world class athletics and disability sport go to www.sainsburys-live-well-for-less.co.uk/occasions/anniversary-games/