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Mighty McKillop on a golden run of success

By Steven Beacom

In the Paralympics, Michael McKillop is the king of middle distance events. The Belfast man has not been beaten in over a decade and continued his dominance at the Games in Brazil with another brilliant performance.

What made his triumph more impressive was that this inspirational athlete had not been at his best in the run-up to Rio.

In a remarkably brave interview with the Belfast Telegraph, he even spoke about his battle with mental health issues.

McKillop started his Paralympic journey by winning gold in Beijing eight years ago in the T37 800m. He followed up that success with a double delight at London 2012, defending his title and adding the 1,500m crown for good measure.

In Rio he was unable to go for a third victory in the 800m after the International Paralympic Committee opted to remove that event from the athletics programme.

That left him with 1,500m glory to chase, and boy did he chase it, knowing another gold medal and his unbeaten record was at stake.

McKillop's experience and quality was evident in the race when he took control halfway through and never let go.

He simply would not be beaten, sprinting home in the closing stages to pass the finish line first ahead of Canada's Liam Stanley and Algeria's Madjid Djemai in a time of 4:12.11.

Representing Team Ireland, it was a fantastic moment for the magnificent McKillop when for the FOURTH time in his career he celebrated being on the top step of the Paralympic Games podium.

He said: "It wasn't the easiest of build-ups to the Paralympics for me so to win gold in Rio was incredibly pleasing. This one was special because I've come through a really tough time and I'm just glad that I was able to go out and win because of the tough times.

"I stayed focused and knew what I had to do and was happy with how the race went.

"My coach and dad Paddy and my fiancée Nicole worked really hard with me ahead of the Games and I'm delighted for them that I won the gold."

McKillop has plans to go to Tokyo for the 2020 Paralympics to keep his remarkable run of success going.

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