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Mormons in sports: Of runners and wrestlers

Published: Friday, Nov. 25 2011 5:00 a.m. MST

Jason Smyth, a Mormon, hopes to become the first athlete to compete in an Olympics and Paralympics in the same summer.

Irishtimes.com

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It’s time for a little break from football.

Today’s blog features a Mormon runner from Ireland, a pair of returned missionary brothers who are wrestling at Utah Valley University and the national champion Southern Virginia women’s cross country team.

Jason Smyth is the 100- and 200-meter Beijing Paralympian Champion and world record holder as well as the first Paralympic athlete to run in the European Championships, where he made the semifinals. He hopes to become the first athlete to compete in an Olympics and Paralympics in the same summer.

Smyth, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is also legally blind.

He suffers from Stargardt’s Disease, a genetic disorder that has slowly and irrevocably reduced his vision to the point where he has less than 10 percent of perfect eyesight.

Smyth talks about his disease and aspirations with Johnny Watterson, a writer for the Irish Times.

“My drive comes from ... my family ... I’d be religious so I’d see that I have been blessed with a talent and an opportunity to excel at something. I feel I’ve to give everything, finish knowing I have achieved everything I could and not look back with regrets,” Smyth said.

“I think it is a God-given talent but I don’t think I’m going to be the best man in the world. To me it’s about being the best you can be. My religious beliefs, they give me a real strength in knowing who I am, what I believe. In a way, in the grand scheme of things sometimes things are not about you or in your control. There’s just a greater being guiding you.”

Twins

An article in the UVU Review recently featured a set of twins on the Wolverine wrestling team.

Chase and Kyle Cuthbertson, of Scottsboro, Ala., are both freshmen on this year’s squad. Kyle wrestles the 165/174-weight class and Chase wrestles at 157/165. Both recently returned from LDS missions. (I am still trying to find out where they went.)

Both were high school all-Americans. Kyle was 61-0 his senior year in high school with a record of 58 pins. Chase was 58-1 his senior year with 50 pins.

National champions

The Southern Virginia University women’s cross country team won the United States Collegiate Athletic Association’s national championship earlier this month in Lake Placid, N.Y.

“We ran a strong race,” said first-year SVU coach Logan Davis. “With so many young, promising runners I think we have a chance to continue our program’s tradition of excellence for many years to come.”

Many of those promising runners are members of the LDS Church. For more on these runners and their memorable accomplishment, read this article on the Southern Virginia athletics site and this summary at Deseretnews.com.

Email: ttoone@desnews.com Twitter: tbtoone

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