Belfast Telegraph

Ulster's pair of aces in gold rush at the IPC World Championships in Lyon

Jason Smyth and Michael McKillop win world titles with more to come

By Brian Hill

It was yet another glorious day for Ulster's paralympic athletes with two gold medals at the IPC World Championships in Lyon.

Belfast runner Michael McKillop, of St Malachy's, was victorious in the 800 metres while City of Derry's Jason Smyth won the 200 metres.

McKillop had the added bonus of breaking his own world record while Smyth equalled the record which he set last year in the London Paralympics.

Glengormley 23-year-old McKillop (below) was competing in the T37 category for athletes with mild cerebral palsy, causing a slight running imbalance.

He was also defending his world title won in Christchurch in 2011.

McKillop's pre-championship form had clearly shown that only injury would deprive him of another title.

A few days ago in Dublin he recorded an 800 metres time of 1 min 54.63 seconds in an able bodied race which is just marginally short of his personal best .

However in Lyon he had to contend with fiercely hot temperatures in the high 30's.

This did not stop him setting off at a blistering pace of 58 seconds for the first lap.

Brad Scott of the US gamely tried to stay in contact but fell further back as the race progressed.

McKillop crossed the line in 1 min 57.19 seconds which just beat his previous record of 1.57.22 set when taking Paralympic gold in London last September. Scott was a distant second in a season's best of 2.02.81. Charl Du Tott of South Africa took bronze in 2.03.89.

McKillop said: "I was hoping Brad would come with me so I went to the front and worked hard.

"I then got to the bell and kicked in .

"With 200 metres to go I felt good," he explained.

"This wasn't about records – it was all about getting across the line first.

"This is a result for Team McKillop. I have phenomenal support from my mum and my dad who is my coach."

McKillop will defend his World 1,500 metres title on Wednesday with his early season times indicating that another world record might well be on the cards.

Smyth watched his team-mate secure gold and clearly drew the necessary inspiration to produce yet another exceptional performance in the 200 metres T13 final for athletes with a visual impairment.

The United States-based 25-year-old, from Eglinton, blasted out of his blocks and had a clear lead even before the home straight.

Smyth powered his way across the finish line in a time of 21.05 seconds which equalled his world record when winning the Paralympic title last year in London.

The time was in fact very close to his fastest ever mark of 20.94 seconds achieved in an able bodied race.

The silver medal went to Nambala Johannes of Namibia in an African record of 21.59 seconds with South Africa's Jonathan Ntutu third in 22.09 seconds.

Smyth commented: "I was keen to do well here as I was injured for the last championships in Christchurch.

"Hopefully I might also win the 100 metres which start on Wednesday.

"While it's nice to get records, this is really all about winning.

"I am confident about a possible double as my training is going well."

When asked about his US training partner Tyson Gay, who recently failed a drugs test, he replied: "There has been massive media coverage on this and I have blanked it out.

"It's a distraction and I have to concentrate on what I have to do," he added.

Smyth trained regularly in Florida with Gay, the world's second fastest man behind the great Usain Bolt.

Smyth's long-term goal is to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics, having marginally missed out on the London Games last summer.

Belfast Telegraph

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