Like his fellow Paralympians and Olympians, Jason Smyth's build-up to the Tokyo Games was far from straightforward.

With Covid-19 and the ensuing restrictions put in place, not only was the 34-year-old's main target hit with a year-long delay but access to training facilities proved difficult initially. He had to contend with injuries too.

But we're talking about a sprinter who has blazed a trail of success in his wake and a multitude of gold medals to show for his supreme talent.

And with the confidence gained from five gold medals won across the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympics, the Derry native took obstacles in his stride as he finally got the chance to go for a sixth gold at the Tokyo Paralympics in August.

As Smyth told RTÉ Sport six months out from the Games, "There's no point worrying about something you can't control."

That mantra followed him along as he ran at warp speed through the T13 100m qualifying heats.

But it's the final that will live long in the memory. Skander Djamil of Algeria proved to be an outstanding rival for gold and a real threat to his crown.

The two were neck and neck, clear of the field as they zoomed towards the finish line.

And they remained side by side at the line with a photo finish required. Had Smyth done enough?

He most certainly had - and by a whisker - just 0.01 seconds in it to add another layer of greatness to what was already a peerless career.

Finally able to release his emotions afterwards, he opened up about what it had taken to rise to the challenge once again.

"If I reflect back on the year I've had, it's probably one of the toughest years I've had in quite a while with injuries," he said.

"Nine months ago, I was wondering if this was me done. Three months ago I was wondering would I be at the Games and to be able to be at this level.

"But we got things right and we came together right at the right time."

He had stayed the course despite the challenges in his way and was richly rewarded on the highest stage once again.

Joanne Cantwell and Darragh Maloney will present the RTÉ Sport Awards 2021 on Saturday 18 December on RTÉ One.

The Sportsperson of the Year is selected by a judging panel. The criteria can be read here.

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