Red hot Smyth and McKillop seal world golds again
Once again Northern Ireland's top para athletics stars Jason Smyth and Michael McKillop excelled in the cauldron of the Olympic Stadium last night in front of 31,000 spectators when they destroyed the opposition to add to their tally of World Championship gold medals.
The pair confirmed their excellent pre-Championship form in able-bodied races.
First up was 100 metres defending world champion Smyth who had earlier shown significant signs in his heat race that he was going to add to his existing gold medal haul in the T13 category for visually impaired athletes.
Smyth won that one with ease in 10.73 seconds, some way ahead of runner-up Kesley Theodore of Brazil who recorded a PB of 10.94 secs.
It therefore came as no surprise when the 30-year-old turned on the after-burners in the final where he appeared totally unfazed after a false start resulting in the disqualification of Brazil's Araujo.
The Ebrington man took a clear lead almost immediately after blasting out of his blocks. He crossed the line to ensure an emphatic victory in a time of 10.63 secs which was marginally slower than his World Championship record of 10.61 secs from Lyon in 2013. Silver went to the Polish athlete Michalski in 10.95 secs.
A jubilant Smyth said: "Even though this is my third world title over this distance it hasn't yet sunk in. I will be celebrating for a while with my wife and daughter who are here but I have the 200 metres this week. When my teacher suggested many years ago that I should take up running I didn't realise quite what the future would hold for me."
A few minutes later Smyth's room-mate Michael McKillop took to the start line in the T38 800 metres. Michael, who has mild cerebral palsy, went through 400 metres in 60 secs and made his break with 200 metres left.
He had a comfortable 20 metres lead in the home straight and crossed the line in 2 mins 00.92 secs which is his second fastest time of the season Australia's Deon Kenzie took silver in 2.02.92. This was 27-year-old McKillop's fifth world gold going back to Assen in 2006. He will contest the 1,500 metres later this week.
Meanwhile, in the Flanders Cup in Belgium Olympian Kerry O'Flaherty became the 13th NI athlete to get a qualification mark for next year's Gold Coast Commonwealth Games when she ran a time of 9 mins 50.75 secs in the steeplechase.
This is over three seconds inside the required time and is a huge relief for the Newcastle woman who has struggled with a calf tear in recent weeks.
In the U23 European Champs in Poland the Irish 400 metres Relay team included NI champion Craig Newell and North Down's Andrew Mellon. The team finished seventh in a time of 3 mins 8.64 secs which was a second slower than their heat time. Victory went to the GB team who ran 3.03.65.