By Owen Morgan
Bermuda-born Smith, who recently became Welsh qualified, clocked a spectacular time of 60:31 to claim 18th place overall in Gdynia on Saturday.
Smith’s time not only eclipsed former marathon world record holder Jones’ Welsh best of 60:59, set at the Great North Run in 1986, it also shattered his own British Under-23 record of 62:00, registered at the Vitality Big Half in London on St David’s Day this year.
The 22-year-old was in tears of joy as he approached the finishing line at the beach front finish in Gdynia.
“When I came down that final straight and saw what I was at the 20km mark, I couldn’t believe it,” said Smith, now the third fastest Brit of all-time.
“I got a 10km PB along the way and I was with the main group when I did that and it was so good.
” In that last lap, I caught one of the Turkish guys and just worked with him and I knew once we were at the top of the hill, it was downhill all the way.
“I put everything into the downhill and tried to hang on as much as I could. I started crying happy tears on the home straight because I just couldn’t believe it.
The Cardiff Metropolitan University student lives and trains in the capital as part of former Wales and GB international James Thie’s hugely successful training group.
Only multiple world and Olympic champion Sir Mo Farah and Scotland’s Callum Hawkins have run faster than Smith, who decided to study in Cardiff on the recommendation of friend and fellow Cardiff Met student Ciaran Lewis after they met on GB mountain running trip in 2016.
Smith is regarded as one of the hottest prospects in British athletics and it’s a huge boost to Welsh athletes that he has opted to compete for the country.
Over the near five-and-a-half kilometre loop on the streets of Poland, Smith produced a measured run, keeping pace with the leading group to go through the 10km mark in a PB of 28:43 and continued to challenge with some of the biggest names in the sport as the race wore on.
He added: “I couldn’t ask for a better team, we all get on so well and we were warming up as a group and I couldn’t ask for anyone else to share this with.”
"When I came down that final straight and saw where I was at the 20km mark, I couldn't believe it".
Jake Smith on his Welsh Record performance.
— @welshathletics (@WelshAthletics) October 17, 2020
Smith’s outstanding performance drew praise from his GB team-mates as it led them to a 10th place finish in the team competition.
Mohamud Aadan, who finished 50th overall said: “Massive congratulations to this team and everyone around me. We fight and we don’t stop fighting. I’m so grateful for our wonderkid [Smith], he’s superman today.”
Swansea Harriers multi-discipline GB international Kris Jones was equally impressed by his new Welsh team mate’s performance.
“To echo what Mo said, to witness this man was great. I hope to run with him at some point in a Welsh vest but it was just amazing,” said the Scotland-based Jones.
Jones, making his GB debut on the road, having gained vests at orienteering, cross country and track, also put in an impressive performance, claiming a new PB of 63:05 as he finished in 60th place overall.
“I went out hard and hurt a lot,” he said. ” I hoped I could hang on for a little bit quicker but I worked through and I’m really happy to come away with a PB, no matter what the time, a PB is a PB.
Jacob Kiplimo came away with top spot for Uganda in a championship record of 58:49, with Kibiwott Kandie (KEN) and Amedework Walelegn (ETH) rounding out the individual medal spots in 58:54 and 59:08 respectively.
Smith’s Cardiff club mate Clara Evans finished 65th in the women’s race, which saw a new women-only half marathon world record posted by Kenya’s Peres Jepchirchir in a time of 73:11.
GB debutant Evans admitted backing up so soon after clocking a PB of 72:21 at the Antrim Coastal Half Marathon last month had been tiring.
Despite that, she enjoyed the experience of winning her first GB vest overall: “That was really tough. The course was surprisingly more hilly than I thought and it really started to hurt as we went through.
“It’s great to come that high up especially on my British debut, especially after this year and how everything has panned out.
“Running half-marathon after half-marathon recently has really taken its toll on me but I didn’t think I’d get a chance to race again after Antrim and I’m grateful to be in the team and I really tried to enjoy that out there.
“As runners, we don’t really enjoy the moment and I wanted to make sure I gave it my best but took it all in. I did as well as I could do on the day.”