Belfast Telegraph

Classy Michael McKillop looking good as gold in World quest

 

By Brian Hill

Michael McKillop started the defence of his World Para Athletics 800m title in style last night at the London Olympic Stadium with a convincing win in his heat. McKillop won a tactical race in a leisurely 2 mins 7.59 secs just ahead of France's Luis Radius in 2.07.88. The first two qualified for tomorrow night's final.

The 27-year-old St Malachy's man is aiming for an amazing fifth consecutive World title in the T38 event for athletes with a mild form of cerebral palsy.

McKillop's pre-event form points to a medal as he recently ran his fastest time in three years. The Newtownabbey man will have an eye on his own World Record of 1.57.17, set in Lyon in 2013.

McKillop's race will be just after the T13 100m final in which City of Derry's Jason Smyth is also expected to add to his gold medal haul.

Wheelchair racer Hannah Cockroft was victorious - so rekindling memories of London 2012 - on the opening night of the World Para Athletics.

Cockroft won a fourth straight T34 100m title for her eighth global crown, triumphing at the London Stadium where she burst to prominence five years ago.

The 24-year-old Halifax racer extended her undefeated streak in major championships to win in a world record of 17.18 seconds.

Kare Adenegan, a 16-year-old from Coventry, took silver in 18.01secs and Alexa Halko of the US was third in 18.43. Briton Carly Tait was fifth in 19.58.

Cockroft won two Paralympic gold medals at London 2012 and three more in Rio last summer.

There was a sombre start to proceedings as the death of Abdullah Hayayei was marked with a moment's silence.

The 36-year-old, who was due to represent the United Arab Emirates in the F34 class discus, javelin and shot put, died after a discus cage collapsed on him as he trained at Newham Leisure Centre on Tuesday. Investigations are ongoing.

Ticket sales for the championships, at 280,000, have exceeded the seven previous editions combined.

And around 20,000 spectators witnessed Cockroft's show of supremacy.

"I'm not going to lie, I wanted to go a little bit quicker," said Cockroft, addressing the crowd after celebrating.

Meanwhile, North Down's Andrew Mellon is in a high quality 400m final at the Euro U23 Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland having earlier qualified with a solid 47.38 secs time in his heat.

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