Belfast Telegraph

Golden paralympian makes promotional visit to schools

by Natalie Irvine

It's been a busy month for Newtownabbey’s gold medal Paralympic champion Michael McKillop.

The 20 year old north Belfast athelete has taken time out of his intensive training regime to visit local schools to promote disability sports to both children living with and without disability.

Michael, who lives with a mild form of cerebral palsy, said: “It is important to get kids involved in sport, no matter what the activity or what disability they may have.

“Sport is for everyone and it is vital that we promote that. I am involved in two initiatives that are organised through Disability Sport NI doing just this.

“The first is the ‘5 Star Disability Sports Challenge’, whereby children learn more about the paralympic games and take part in paralympic events to help them gain a better understanding of disability sports.

“It also helps encourages able bodied children to take part in sports activities along with those who have some form of disability. I train with able bodied people at St Malachy Athletics Club and so this project hits home to me how important it is to promote mixed ability sports.

“The second initiative is ‘Be Active Be the Best’ which aims to identify the next generation of talented young disabled sports people in the build up to the London 2012 Paralympic Games.”

Michael who lives in Newtownabbey and runs for Ireland added: “It is great to be involved in these projects as I really feel the London 2012 are my home games — I have to face the fact that the Olympics are never going to come to Ireland, who I compete for.

“It is going to be easy for all my family to get to London to support me and so I am passionately behind people getting involved and supporting these games.”

Last week, Chris Holmes, multiple gold medal winning Paralympian swimmer and Director of Paralympic Integration for the London 2012 Games Paralympic Games, dropped into St Ita’s Primary School, to see Michael McKillop deliver one of his presentations that allow the pupils gain a deeper insight into the forthcoming games from a disabled perspective.

Michael’s next major sporting event is the IPC Athletics World Championships that are due to take place in Christchurch, New Zealand in January 2011, should the stadium pass safety checks following the recent earthquake.

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