Irish athlete Michael McKillop had reason to have mixed emotions after winning the 1,500 metres at the Paralympic World Athletics Championships in Christchurch New Zealand on Tuesday. The 20 year old from Irishman knocked two seconds off the old world record when storming to victory in 4 minutes 14.82 seconds in what was almost a solo against only one opponent.
However the rules of the International Competition did not allow the Organising Committee to award any medal to McKillop for his outstanding achievement as the rule states there must be a minimum of three competitors in a race for medals to be awarded, and McKilop was fully aware of this fact before the start; and this may have made McKilop even more determined to make his mark.
McKillop’s only opponent was Khaled Hanani of Algeria and so the Irishman was denied a chance to receive a deserved gold medal to add to the one he won over 800 metres at the Paralympic Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008. Nonetheless McKilop’s time was a wonderful present in advance of celebrating his 21st birthday today.
McKillop suffers from a mild form of Cerebral Palsy, but has overcome this to develop into an excellent athlete, and Irish Team Manager and two-time Olympian, James Nolan, is confident that the Antrim runner will complete the double in the 800 m in tomorrow’s final and perhaps lower the world record of 1:57.30
McKillop is coached by his father Paddy, and prepared for New Zealand by having six weeks warm weather training in South Africa. Ailish Dunne was 6th in the Shot Putt with 6.62m while Nadine Lattimore was 7th in 6.12.
McKillop’s record breaking run came on a day when the Paralympic Council of Ireland launched their plans for the 2012 Olympic Games. The launch took place in Dublin and it was announced that it was hoped to have a team of 70 competitors in London.
A new Paralympics logo has been designed which reflects the dynamism of Irish Paralympic Sport, with Chief Executive Officer Liam Harbison commenting “The Launch today marks a very significant milestone in the history of our organisation.”
The launch was officially made by well known RTE Racing Reporter, Colm Murray, who has reported on three previous Paralympic Games in 2000, 2004 and 2008.