Runner Michael McKillop says the interest in the London Paralympic Games has been phenomenal and he hopes the momentum built up can be carried forward to Rio in 2016.
The T37 800m and 1500m gold medallist from Glengormley, Co Antrim, said the support from the public has been immense and he hopes the success of all the Olympians and Paralympians will bring more people into sport.
Now back home in Glengormley, the 22-year-old, who was also named the athlete who best embodied the Paralympic spirit, reflected on his achievements.
Setting a new world record time of 1:57.22 in the 800m was a special moment for the young athlete and he said being presented with the Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award at the spectacular closing ceremony celebrations was a tremendous honour.
“It made me feel very special and honoured,” he said.
“To be nominated down to the last three and selected alongside the likes of Oscar Pistorius is something special.”
McKillop, who has a mild form of cerebral palsy, said everyone competing in London noticed a boost in the interest and excitement around Paralympic sport.
“I think everyone noticed the Paralympics was more in the media and more on television,” he said. “The Paralympics was shown on Channel 4 and that was all that they were showing for the past two weeks, so you could tell the difference.
“So many people were interested. Even members of the public who don’t usually take note of sport took an interest in Paralympic sport. It’s good to see.”