Belfast Telegraph

Nine golds but Michael McKillop feels like 'lost' para athlete

 

By Brian Hill

Newtownabbey Para Athletics star Michael McKillop spoke of his sadness at what he perceives to be a lack of recognition for his achievements as he took his ninth title in the World Para Athletics Championships in the London Olympic Stadium.

Running for Ireland, victory ensured an unbeaten series of victories for Michael since his first participation back in 2006.

The 27 year old was defending his 1,500 metres title in the T37 category for athletes with mild cerebral palsy. This adds to another emphatic win a week ago in the 800 metres.

Afterwards an emotional Michael said: "The crowds were amazing as usual and I must mention my family and friends who have supported me since I was 11.

"However, I feel a bit like the lost para athlete despite all my World titles. People find it hard to identify with me as I am not obviously disabled. It would be different if everyone knew what I have had to go through to be this good. While I find this a bit sad I am nevertheless very honoured to take another title."

McKillop is the ultimate competitor as his huge medal tally count has been achieved despite a background of significant injuries over the years.

His latest success will, however, be most remembered for the pedestrian pace of the race from the gun. It was clear no-one was prepared to lead which eventually forced the title holder to move to the front early on.

Such tactics by McKillop's opponents played directly into his hands as his raw speed was signicantly faster than anyone else - 800 metres was covered in a very slow 2 mins 46 secs with the race only coming to life in the final 300 metres.

McKillop and his chief rival Liam Stanley of Canada battled it out around the final bend with the St Malachy's man finally forging a 20 metres lead in the home straight to take victory in 4 mins 36.38 secs which is a lot slower than his Championship record of 4 mins 10 secs.

Ballymena's James Hamilton was in the fiercely competitive T20 800 metres final where he battled his way to sixth place in a season's best time of 2 mins 0.24 secs.

It has once again been a highly successful Para Championships for Northern Ireland with two gold medals for Jason Smyth in the sprints and a further two golds for Michael in the middle distances.

In the European Junior Championships in Italy, 16 year old Kate O'Connor set her second Northern Ireland senior heptathlon record in a month with a new total of 5,759 points which beat her previous best by 127 points.She finished eighth just behind new Irish record holder Liz Morland who scored 5,801 points.

In the Commonwealth Youth Games, in the Bahamas, Beechmount's Davicia Patterson finished eighth in the 400 metres final in 55.86 secs.

Lisburn AC's Anna McCauley just failed to make the 100 metres hurdles final with a time of 14.26 secs.

North Down's Aaron Sexton excelled in the highly competitive 200 metres with a heat win of 21.93 secs. He booked a place in the final with another victory in his semi final in 21.83 secs.

In the Irish Senior Championships in Dublin there were several victories for Northern athletes.

Lisburn AC's Amy Foster snatched her sixth title in the 100 metres in a time of 11.43 secs which is one of the fastest ever wins and only 0.03secs off her Irish record.

UCD's Ciara Mageean, from Portaferry, took her fifth win over 800 metres in 2 mins 4.6 secs.

Queen's University, Belfast's Emma Mitchell won the 5,000 metres in 16.27.08 while City of Derry's Adam Kirk Smith won the steeplechase in 8.55.72. Kerry O'Flaherty of Newcastle was also an easy winner in the steeplechase in 10 mins 1.4 secs.

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