McKillop favourite to strike more gold in London
Newtownabbey's Michael McKillop is well-placed to take gold once again at the World Para Athletics Championships in the London Olympic Stadium this evening.
The 27-year-old will be racing in the T37 1,500m for athletes with mild cerebral palsy. He is the defending champion from Doha in 2015 and is also the Championship record holder with four minutes, 10.17 seconds.
McKillop's fitness level is such that he should be fully recovered from last weekend's successful defence of his 800m title.
In Doha, the motivational speaker competed against a background of fitness problems arising from injury.
There are no such difficulties this time, as shown by his time of four minutes, 4.17 seconds in last month's able-bodied Northern Ireland Championships.
That Belfast performance was his fastest in four years, and he is much quicker than his main opponents, including Canada's Liam Stanley and Madjid Djemai of Algeria.
McKillop is determined to retain his record of not having lost a World Para Athletics race since his first event back in 2006.
Ballymena's James Hamilton will also be competing in the T20 800m category for athletes with intellectual impairments. The 24-year-old will be tested with several opponents having run under two minutes.
Elsewhere, many of Ulster's top athletes will be competing in this weekend's Iris Life Senior Championships at Santry in Dublin. This will be the final opportunity to impress selectors ahead of the London World Championships next month.
Portaferry's Ciara Mageean is among the athletes who have already booked their place for London.
The multi-NI record holder is entered in both the 800m and 1,500m. She is the title holder in the longer distance but may well concentrate on the former, in which she recently ran her second fastest ever time of 2.02.20.
QUB'S Emma Mitchell is entered in both the 1,500m and 5,000m. The Banbridge woman, who has set NI records in both events, is bound for the World University Games next month.
Lisburn AC's Amy Foster goes for her sixth 100m title and will be keeping a wary eye on Bandon's Phil Healy, who recently defeated her over 200m in the Morton Games.
Christian Robinson of Lisburn AC and Ballymena's Dean Adams, who were members of the recent record-breaking NI relay team, go in the 100m.
Ulster will be well represented in the men's 400m with Craig Newell, Andrew Mellon and Ben Maze aiming for rostrum places.
Belfast's Adam McMullen should take yet another title in the long jump, while Ballymena's Christine McMahon will make another attempt to gain the Commonwealth Games standard in the 400m hurdles. Kerry O'Flaherty, who became the 13th Irish athlete to qualify for the Games, races in the steeplechase.