McKillop and Smyth both sparkle ahead of gold bids
Triple IPC 800m champion Michael McKillop was in commanding form yesterday in the World Championships in Doha, producing the fastest qualification time going into today’s final.
McKillop’s fellow Ulsterman Jason Smyth was fastest qualifier in the T13 100m.
McKillop — who competes in the T38 category for athletes with mild cerebral palsy — led from the start and, after a tentative first lap of 67 seconds, the north Belfast runner pressed ahead over the final 300m to win in a time of 2 mins 7.16 secs just ahead of China’s Jialong Wu (2.07.93).
Despite this performance, McKillop’s injury-hit build-up to these Championships makes victory today far from certain.
Serious challenges are likely from heat winners Deon Kenzie of Australia and Tunisia’s Abbes Saidi.
McKillop said: “I have had so many injuries I am just glad to be here. The final will be hard.
“I am not completely fit but my heart is 100% there.”
Prior to last night’s semi-final, there was speculation as to whether the 25-year-old had sufficiently recovered from a nightmare injury period.
McKillop has suffered calf injuries, shin splints and a trapped nerve in recent months.
Smyth won his 100m semi-final in 10.78 seconds.
The other heat winners were Brazil’s Gustavo Araujo (10.91) and Swiss Philipp Handler (11.05).
The Eglinton athlete will return home after today’s final to be with wife Elise for the birth of the couple’s first child.
Smyth said: “I just hope I don’t find a message on my phone to say Elise is on her way to the hospital already!”