Double delight for Glengormley’s golden boy McKillop

Michael McKillop with his gold medal on Saturday.  INLT 35-685-CON
Michael McKillop with his gold medal on Saturday. INLT 35-685-CON

Michael McKillop has become the second Irish athlete to win double gold at the Paralympic Athletics European Championships.

On Saturday morning in Swansea, the Glengormley man added the T38 1500m title to the T38 800m one he claimed last Wednesday.

McKillop won in a time of 4:16.73 ahead of Louis Radius of France in 4:21.44, and Dean Miller of Great Britain in 4:22.24.

Although the local athlete who is reigning Paralympic, world champion and world record holder at 800m and 1500m was the favourite on paper for Saturday’s final, championship races rarely go to plan.

Having been sidelined for the vast majority of the last year with a serious foot injury this was only McKillop third 1500m of the season.

The Irish athlete led them out from the gun but the pace was particularly sluggish with the rest of the field intent on tracking him throughout.

With such a pedestrian pace and nobody keen to take it on McKillop made a decisive move with about 650m left to race.

Despite the best efforts of French athlete Louis Radius and Dean Miller of Great Britain they were not able to keep up with the Irishman and were left to battle it out for silver with McKillop stretching his lead to win impressively by almost five seconds.

After the race McKillop said: “The race started very slow, in fact it was the slowest first lap I can remember.

“I decided to go out front to ensure I wouldn’t get tripped but it just stayed so slow I decided to pick it up, and I just built it up from there.”

The intermediate times posted afterwards demonstrated just how McKillop burned off the opposition when he made his move; the first 400m were run in 1:14.05 with the third 1500m covered in 1:03.53.

McKillop added: “Championships are about medals and I’m absolutely delighted to have won both here.

“After a tough challenging year it’s very satisfying to finish the season on such a high.

“Massive thanks and credit must go to my dad (Paddy); my coach, and all the team at Sports Institute Northern Ireland and everyone who has had a hand in getting me back in such good shape.”