Michael honoured with gold post box

Glengormley's double gold medal winning Paralympian, Michael McKillop helps apply the first coat of gold paint to the post box on the Antrim Road at Swanston. INNT 38-509CON
Glengormley's double gold medal winning Paralympian, Michael McKillop helps apply the first coat of gold paint to the post box on the Antrim Road at Swanston. INNT 38-509CON
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GLENGORMLEY’S double gold medal winning athlete, Michael McKillop has been honoured by Royal Mail for his success at the Paralympic Games.

The post box on the Antrim Road at Swanston - just a few hundred metres from Michael’s family home at Sandyknowes - has been painted gold in recognition of his T37 800m and 1,500m gold medal winning performances. The 22-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, also received a special award from the International Paralympic Committee for being the male athlete who best exemplified the Paralympic spirit throughout the London Games.

In total, Royal Mail painted three post boxes gold to honour local athletes who claimed success for Ireland during the Paralympic Games - Michael’s in Glengormley, one of sprinter Jason Smyth in Eglinton, and another for swimmer Bethany Firth at Seaforde, Co Down.

Barbara Roulston, Head of External Relations for Royal Mail in Northern Ireland said: “Honorary gold post boxes for Jason, Michael and Bethany are an appropriate tribute for our local Paralympic heroes given their tremendous achievements and the very clear community support for this.”

Speaking to the Times on Monday, Michael said it was “a real honour” to have a golden post box just yards from his home as a lasting reminder of his record-breaking performances in London.

“It’s quite exciting to have a post box painted gold in honour of my achievements. Hopefully it’s something that the people of Glengormley will be proud to have and hopefully they’re proud to have a Paralympic athlete.

“Initially it was the British athletes that they (Royal Mail) were doing it for, but because we’re resident and proud to be from Northern Ireland they’ve honoured us for our achievements at the Paralympic Games.

“It’s very nice that they’ve honoured us and hopefully it’s seen as a positive thing for the Newtownabbey community,” he commented.

Michael flew out to London on Monday afternoon to speak at a conference on behalf of a marketing company which represents several major brands - an opportunity for him to spread the word about ‘Team McKillop’ and perhaps even secure some sponsorship.

The former St Malachy’s College pupil, who has been hailed as the Paralympics’ best ever middle distance runner, is currently enjoying a well-earned break before he gets back into training for a number of races later in the year.

The celebrations to mark his amazing achievements in London continued on Wednesday with an open top bus tour around the borough, including visits to his former school, St MacNissi’s Primary, the Children’s Hospice and the Abbeycentre.

• See full coverage of Michael’s open top bus tour in next week’s Times...