Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

In Pictures: Golden day for Team Ireland

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 01: Jason Smyth of Ireland celebrates winning gold and breaking the world record in the Men's 100m - T13 Final on day 3 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 1, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 01: Jason Smyth of Ireland crosses the line to win gold and break the world record in the Men's 100m - T13 Final on day 3 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 1, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 01: Darragh Mcdonald of Ireland competes in the Men's 400m Freestyle S6 heats on day 3 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Aquatics Centre on September 1, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Team Ireland won three gold medals on Saturday in a day of glory for Irish Paralympians.

Michael McKillop broke his own world record in the 800m final to claim the squad's fourth gold of the Games.

He is from Newtownabbey in Antrim, suffers from cerebral palsy and is one of Ireland's most successful Paralympic athletes.

He won the 800m title in Beijing and was the double world champion and world record holder over 800m and 1500m coming into the London 2012 Games.

Jason Smyth, from Eglinton in Derry, retained his 100m title by setting a new world record as he won gold at the Olympic Stadium.

The blind sprinter said: "This just goes to show that if you work hard and apply yourself you can achieve at the greatest level.

"Coming into the championships I knew I was under pressure to retain my title so I wanted to do that first and foremost and thankfully I was able to do that. Of course there was the added bonus of a world record.

"Times at championships are irrelevant. It doesn't matter whether you run ten zero or eleven zero as long as you win. I believe I can run quicker than that again."

He beat his own world record in the heats with a time of 10.54 and he took a further .08 off his new record with a 10.46 in the final.

Smyth is the reigning 100m/200m Paralympic champion and world record holder for both disciplines.

He was the first Paralympian to compete in athletics' non-disabled European Championships (Barcelona 2010) and World Championships (Daegu 2011). He narrowly missed out on qualification for this summer's Olympic Games.

The athlete is based in Florida and trains with US sprint champion Tyson Gay.

Darragh McDonald, aged 18 and from Wexford, won a gold medal in the men's 400m freestyle swimming final at the Aquatics Centre.

The athlete from Gorey is an amputee and began swimming competitively at his local Asgard swimming club in 2006.

He said his performance showed how far Paralympics swimming has come in four years.

"I said to myself before I started that I was not going to think about times. That is what I did," he said.

"It's a ten second personal best since this morning. I cannot believe it, it's just great."

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