Norfolk youngster Will Smith savours ‘fantastic experience’ of Commonwealth Games final
- Credit: PA
He may have missed out on a medal at Glasgow 2014 but there was no wiping the smile off Will Smith's face after competing in his first major senior final.
The 18-year-old wheelchair athlete from Dereham, ended up fifth in the Commonwealth T54 1500m final that was won by his mentor and training partner David Weir, the six-time Paralympic champion.
Smith stopped the clock in 3:25.04minutes, less than a second and a half outside the bronze medal winner, Alex Dupont of Canada.
But despite the wet conditions Smith was delighted with his efforts on his Commonwealth debut.
'It was a bit wet out there but coming into the Championships my main target was to qualify through to the final and that is what I did,' he said. 'It was tactical in the final so I was able to hold my own and stay in the pack for a lot of it but the top guys just have the sprint on me at the moment. I am just looking to progress at this stage but to be at Commonwealth finals is a fantastic experience.'
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Smith had a glittering youth career, taking four silver medals at the 2010 World Junior Champion-ships and, a year later, clean-sweeping the gold medals in the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m.
'But the step up to senior status will take a bit longer with wheelchair racers who depend heavily on upper body strength and generally peak in their late 20s.
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'Dave (Weir) is a prime example of that,' added Smith, who like Weir is trained by Jenny Archer.
'He is into his 30s now and still winning races so to be 18 at the moment and in the mix is great and a great experience.'
Smith just missed out on selection to both London 2012 and last year's IPC world championships making his Commonwealth bow all the sweeter and with Rio 2016 in his sights he is adamant that there is more to come.
'It was a brilliant crowd, the whole of Scotland and GB were being cheered,' he added.
'I always knew London and the worlds last year were going to come a bit too soon but it is great to have been selected here.
'I'm fortunate to train with Dave, to learn and be around him is just invaluable from a guy that has done it all.'
Commonwealth Games England (CGE) leads and manages the participation of the Team England at the Commonwealth Games and Commonwealth Youth Games. We work with sports, Sponsors and Sport England to support the development of athletes and their sports, and to achieve success at Games-time.