IPC European Athletics Championships: Double delight as Michael McKillop clinches the gold
St Malachy's middle distance star Michael McKillop added another gold medal to his collection on the final day of the IPC European Athletics Championships in Swansea when he took the 1,500m title in dominant fashion in the T38 category.
McKillop had already secured gold three days previously in the 800m.
This double success replicated team-mate's Jason Smyth's victories over 100m and 200m and made for a warm reception yesterday at Dublin Airport as the Paralympics Ireland team displayed their medal haul, which also included Cork's Orla Barry's silver medal in the T57 discus.
Glengormley man McKillop is now ranked as one of the most successful Paralympic athletes of all time.
The 24-year-old's double Swansea success in a category which includes athletes with mild cerebral palsy gives him 10 gold medals in major competition.
It follows five World titles and three Paralympic wins, which include two world records.
He has not lost a Paralympic race since 2006.
In McKillop's 1,500m race he showed no signs of fatigue following his earlier 800m victory.
He led the field through 800m in a rather pedestrian 2 mins 24 secs with GB's Dean Millar and France's Luis Radius for company.
Michael then accelerated and had a healthy 30m lead at the bell.
His glance back with 200m to go confirmed his unbeatable lead which stretched to nearly five seconds at the finish. He could even afford a few grins at the tracking camera in the home straight.
McKillop's winning time was 4 mins 16.73 secs.
A close tussle for second resulted in silver going to Radius in 4.21.44 with Millar having to settle for bronze in 4.22.24.
This latest win comes as a huge relief for Michael given his injury-plagued build up to Swansea when a trapped nerve in his foot restricted him to only four months proper training plus two track races.
Afterwards he said: "The race started very slow. I decided to go out front to ensure I wasn't tripped.
"However as the pace stayed slow I decided to pick it up and just build from there.
"In my earlier 800m race I had a sense of relief but this time I had a smile on my face in the home straight.
"I pushed hard until the last 100m and then I could take it all in."
Reflecting on his achievements he observed: "Because Jason had won two golds I wanted to finish the finish my job and complete the double.
"Championships are all about medals and I am delighted to have won both. After such a challenging, tough year it's satisfying to finish the season on a high.
"I must give special thanks to my Dad (Paddy), my coach, the Sports Institute NI and everyone who took the time getting me back in such good shape at the right time.
"The next step is the World Championships in Doha next November and I promise I will break the world record there.
"It's been special racing in Swansea.
"You don't get to race close to home much and I would like it more often, as you get more support."
Meanwhile, in the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China, Lisburn AC's 17-year-old Irish sprinter Roseanna McGuckian finished third in her B race final in a time of 25.15 secs behind Kelly Mora of Ecuador who won in 24.74 secs. The A race was won by Jamaica's Natalliah Whyte in 23.55 secs. Roseanna will be a little disappointed in her final time which was slower than her heat run of 24.77 secs for third place which was a respectable 10th fastest overall.