Belfast Telegraph

McKillop and Smyth fired up to strike gold at scene of triumph

 

By Brian Hill

Multi World Para Athletics champions Jason Smyth and Michael McKillop are well set for more gold in the World Championships starting at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium in London tomorrow.

Newtownabbey's McKillop and Ebrington's Smyth will be making a welcome return to the venue where they set World records back in the 2012 Paralympics.

First up this weekend is 27- year-old McKillop who has a mild form of cerebral palsy. He will be competing over 800m in the T38 category in which he is the world record holder with a time of 1min 57.17secs set in Lyon in 2013.

The St. Malachy's man is well capable of beating this time as he is at his fittest for some four years following a seemingly endless series of debilitating injuries.

At the recent Belfast International meeting he ran 1.58.25 in an able bodied race, his fastest since 2013. With a personal best of 1.54.40 it is clear that the personal trainer has the capacity to add to his impressive array of seven World Para titles going back to 2006.

Smyth (30), from Derry City AC, has Stargardt's disease which affects his central vision. He defends his 100m title on Sunday in the T13 category. His eyesight difficulty meant that he was required to take the first leg for last weekend's record breaking NI relay team which set new figures of 40.35secs.

This achievement was also in the London Olympic Stadium. The venue will have further poignancy for Smyth as it was the scene of his record breaking 10.46secs run in the 2012 Paralympics.

Like McKillop, Smyth is in sparkling form, running 10.56secs this month in Newham.

Meanwhile NI athletes are part of a large Irish squad competing in the European U23s starting today in Bydgoszcz, Poland. They are Andrew Mellon (400m and relay), Craig Newell (400m relay), John Kelly (shot) and Sarah McKeever (pole vault).

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