McKillop on top of the world
IPC Athletics World Championships
Belfast’s Michael McKillop celebrated his 21st birthday in style when he took gold with a world record 800m performance at the IPC Athletics World Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand yesterday.
McKillop, the reigning Paralympic and World 800m champion, broke his own world record by 0.49 seconds in setting a new T37 800m mark of 1.58.90.
The St Malachy’s athlete beat Brad Scott of Australia into second place while Khaled Hanani of Algeria took the bronze medal.
“It’s my 21st birthday so it’s a dream come true,” explained McKillop.
“My plan was to hit it hard with 450m to go as the Australian is a strong 400m runner — I knew I could psychologically break him with a long kick for home.
“It wasn’t easy in the wind and I tightened slightly in the home straight, but just managed to scrape under the old world record which is great.
“In Beijing (at the 2008 Paralympics) I waited to the 250m mark, but today I decided to go early and catch them out.
“It all worked out perfectly for me.
“The pressure is always on to achieve when you come to the World Championships.”
Irish Team Manager James Nolan said: “Sometimes it can be more difficult when you are expected to perform and deliver. Michael handled himself very well.
“He had a plan, executed the plan and the end result is a gold medal for Ireland and a new world record.”
McKillop, who has a mild form of cerebral palsy, set a 1500m world record earlier this week, but was unfortunate not to be awarded a medal because of the lack of entries.
McKillop prepared for the championships by spending six weeks warm-weather training in South Africa and then New Zealand.
In what has been a great week for the middle distance runner, he was also named in a 70-strong elite panel of Irish Paralympic athletes across nine sports bidding for the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
And on this kind of form, the 21-year-old must have an outstanding chance of adding to his medal haul come next year’s London extravaganza.