Michael McKillop thankful for his Lottery springboard
Paralympic hero Michael McKillop has spoken of his pride in his fellow Northern Ireland athletes as they strive for golden glory at the Commonwealth Games.
The middle distance runner, who is stepping up training for the European Championships after a period out with injury, is keeping a keen eye on Team NI's performance in Glasgow.
The three-time Paralympic gold medallist, who isn't competing at the Games because there is no suitable category for him, was at Belfast City Hall yesterday to give thanks for Lottery funding for athletes in Northern Ireland over two decades.
The Newtownabbey runner posed for photos on a 3D pavement art installation drawn as a 'thank you' from athletes for 20 years of sports funding which has seen £128m invested in almost 3,000 projects across Northern Ireland.
"I would have loved to represent Northern Ireland but I have known for a while that competing wasn't going to happen," he said. But he joked that he considered himself the "official supporter of all Northern Ireland athletes" and wished them all the "best of luck".
"There's never been a better time to recognise the immense difference National Lottery funding has made to sport projects in Northern Ireland," he added. "Funding received from the National Lottery via the Sports Institute Northern Ireland has enabled me to compete at the highest level. Without access to the funding that provided me resources to recover at the time of my injury I may have had to retire."