Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

London brings new glory for McKillop

Leading man: Michael McKillop after winning the 800m at the Paralympic Anniversary Games at London's Olympic Stadium
Leading man: Michael McKillop after winning the 800m at the Paralympic Anniversary Games at London's Olympic Stadium

Recently crowned double Paralympic world champion Michael McKillop was once again victorious in the London Olympic Stadium, in the 800m, part of the Paralympic Anniversary Games.

The St Malachy's athlete was racing in front of 65,000 spectators at the venue in which he was the first male athlete to break a world record, ahead of last summer's London Paralympics, before going on to take two gold medals.

This time he was competing in the T36/37 category for athletes with mild cerebral palsy causing a slight running imbalance.

As usual the Glengormley man forced the pace from the gun and eventually opened a significant gap on his rivals.

He crossed the line in 1 min 58.62 secs which was slightly slower than his winning time in the World Paralympic Championships in Lyon last week.

Second place again went to Lyon silver medallist Brad Scott of Australia in 2.03.25, with Britain's Paul Blake taking third in a UK record of 2.07.63.

This has been the culmination of a hectic week for the 23 year-old following his two gold medals in Lyon which, combined with fellow Ulsterman Jason Smyth's two sprint golds, translated into a highly successful result for the small Irish team.

"It was unbelievable," said a delighted McKillop.

"Getting the opportunity to run in this stadium again ... this is really where I found who I am and how good I was, and I was able to back it up in Lyon.

"It's incredible and mind-blowing to be back in the stadium.

"It's nice to have people's support; it doesn't matter what country you come from.

"In 2017 I'll be back here (for the World Championships) and fingers crossed I can keep the reputation up of winning."

Sports Minister Caral Ni Chuilin paid tribute to McKillop on his latest triumph.

"Michael McKillop is a sensational athlete and an inspiration to all of us," said the Minister.

"Winning the T36/37 800m race in London after securing two gold medals at the IPC World Championships earlier in the week is a fabulous result for a world class athlete."

Brazil's Alan Oliveira blew the controversial debate over running blades back open with a stunning 100 metres world record at the Olympic Stadium.

And his American rival Richard Browne warned the IAAF, the athletics world governing body, to brace themselves for more legal challenges as amputee sprinters fight for the right to compete at the Olympics.

Oliveira shattered his own T43 double amputee record by winning in 10.57 seconds, with Browne second in the mixed-lass race in a T44 world record, for single amputees, of 10.75secs.

Great Britain's Jonnie Peacock, the London 2012 champion, was third in a British record 10.84s as Paralympic fever returned to east London at the Anniversary Games.

Many of the stars of last summer, including David Weir, Hannah Cockroft and Richard Whitehead, returned with victories to delight a capacity home crowd.

But Oliveira, whose country will host the Olympics and Paralympics in 2016, showed he was the man to take the sport to a new level in the fastest amputee race ever.

Browne, (21), said: "Sub-10 is most definitely possible.

"We will break the able-bodied barrier. There's going to be more than one in the able-bodied Olympics by 2016.

"The IAAF are going to have to be ready."

Oscar Pistorius had to win a lengthy legal battle with the IAAF for the right to compete in the Olympics. His Cheetah blades were subject to scientific tests to determine whether they gave him an advantage or not.

Oliveira, (20), wears different blades – their height famously irritated Pistorius last summer – so he would face a whole new fight.

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