No gold post box for Jason Smyth

Published Tuesday, 11 September 2012
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There will be no gold post box in Eglinton to mark the double Paralympic triumphs of sprinter Jason Smyth, the Royal Mail has confirmed.

No gold post box for Jason Smyth
Double gold medallist Smyth tweeted the Royal Mail over the weekend. (© Getty)

The visually impaired athlete, who raced his way to 100m and 200m gold at the London Games, tweeted over the weekend to ask if his hometown deserved the honour.

Smyth ran for Team Ireland but pointed out he lives in and is from Northern Ireland.

However, in its response, the Royal Mail explained that the gold post boxes are only for athletes who represented Team GB at the Olympics or Paralympics.

"Royal Mail announced in June that it was to mark the achievements of Team GB and Paralympics GB by issuing a gold medal stamp for every gold medal winner and painting a post box gold in their home town," said Barbara Roulston.

"We were clear that this tribute was for athletes representing Team GB.

"Royal Mail understands that the way sport is organised in Northern Ireland means that some competitors will represent Ireland rather than the UK, but that this is matter for individuals not for Royal Mail.

"Nonetheless, we offer our sincere congratulations to Jason, Michael and Bethany for their respective gold medal successes."

After lifting his second medal, Smyth said he would have been happy to represent either team as he is "not politically Irish or politically British".

He said: "I could have gone for Britain just as easy as I went for Ireland, but at the time both people were given the opportunity and the Sports council in Ireland came on and wanted to support and help me and did whatever they could, whereas whoever was in charge of GB at the time was like 'whatever, whatever'."

Pat Ramsey of the SDLP said he is "seeing red" over the issue.

"As Northern residents, they have to use the Royal Mail, whether it be for submitting funding applications or receiving messages of congratulation, so Royal Mail, regardless of narrow definitions of national identity, should recognise the achievements of its supposedly valued customers by painting a postbox in Eglinton gold," said the MLA.

"I will continue to press for a reversal of this ludicrous and disrespectful decision."

Northern Ireland athletes picked up six medals at the Paralympics.

Glengormley runner Michael McKillop claimed gold in the T37 1500m and 800m - and picked up the special Whang, Youn Dai Achievement Award for embodying the spirit of the Games - while Seaforde's Bethany Firth won the 100m backstroke S14 and Portaferry cyclist James Brown took bronze in the tandem road time trial.

It came after a successful Olympics saw silver for rowers Peter and Richard Chambers, and bronze for sculler Alan Campbell and boxers Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan.

© UTV News
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26 Comments
Realist in England wrote (796 days ago):
WTF - WTF indeed? I never disputed that although it is irrelevant. The point, I guess, is the grey area in between - the GFA agreement also allows people NOT to make that choice. That is just stupid, IMO. Anyone who has made the choice to represent one or other state should be left to that decision. Chopping and changing or asking for the benefits, however petty, of both is just wrong. Please inform me as to the way in which my opinion deserves your implied 'WTF' question? As far as I see we are saying the same thing from different perspectives.
WTF in Ards wrote (799 days ago):
@realist in England. Here on planet Earth we realise that the GFA allowed people to make a choice in their nationality. I'm British....never have been, never will be, never want to be Irish. Others may want to do so but people like yourself really need to get your head round THIS fact. Simples
Dan Gerous in Limavady wrote (799 days ago):
What does Realist in England mean when he says we're Irish? Typical know-nothing English imbecile. Smyth ran for a foreign country. If he wants a gold post box the Irish can paint him one on O'Connell Street.
Des Gusted in Belfast wrote (799 days ago):
Wanna-be brits... you are in fact citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland, except when you are in Britain where you are universally known as 'Paddies'...... The young man is perfectly entitled to represent Ireland if he wishes and you should have the decency to respect his choice. The Post Office should, in the true spirit of the recent Olympic & Paralympic games, paint the mailbox gold to reflect his fantastic achievements.... Shame on you all for begrudging him this well earned recognition!!!!!!
conor in belfast wrote (799 days ago):
The narrowmindedness on the comments posted here is absolutely remarkable. Royal Mail has made their stance, fine by me. One way of looking at it is if a Norther Ireland resident from Poland went on to win an Olympic gold for Poland, wouldn't it be a good idead for Royal Mail to paint the box gold for one of it's residents???? I'm not saying they have to change their stance on it, but it also wouldn't be a bad idea to honour a sportsperson in an area that sportsperson resides in that the Royal Mail carries out it's work. Doesn't always need to have anything to do with our pathetic politics on any given subject. Pity it always does.
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