McKillop on cloud nine after double title defence
MICHAEL McKILLOP continued his domination of the T37 middle distance events in Paralympic sport by retaining his second title at the IPC World Championships.
The Antrim man added the 1,500m crown to the 800m medal he won last weekend by once again blitzing the field in Lyon, just as he did in London last summer.
McKillop allowed his opponents to set the pace until the 400m mark when he took off, leaving the rest in his wake en route to a championship record finishing time of 4:10.17, beating Tunisia's Abbes Saidi by more than two seconds.
With T38 athletes included in the field there was an element of the unknown for the man who has cerebral palsy to deal with, but he saw off all-comers once again.
"It is good to get the second one out of the way and retain both of my titles," he said. "This was the unique one, because I was in with the T38s as well, so there were milder athletes in the race, but I knew I was in good shape since Sunday.
"I was quite happy with the way it went, I sat until 800m to go and then went and I don't know what was going on behind me, but I just kept pushing and pushing and could relax with 50 or 60 metres to the line.
"I'm very happy because I set out to win the double. I had a very good season and it paid off. I am quite happy and proud of myself. I have to be concentrated for the upcoming events now."
McKillop brushed off questions about how he stays motivated when he is so dominant in his field ahead of his appearance at the Anniversary Games in London this weekend.
"I really love it," he said. "I'm probably sick, but I love coming off the track absolutely whacked because when you step on to the track you know that you went that deep in training so you can go that deep again.
"I'm just glad the way it went, I can finally go on my holidays with my girlfriend and enjoy it."
McKillop's good friend and room-mate Jason Smyth can complete his own double tonight as he runs in the T13 100m final after breaking the championship record in yesterday's semi-final win.
The Eglington native missed the World Games four years ago and is eager to add medals to his already glittering Paralympic collection in France.
He got off to the perfect start and left the field for dead with a time of 10.72 seconds, 0.3 of a second clear of Namibia's Nambala Johannes and the performance leaves him firm favourite for gold tonight after winning the 200m title on Sunday. South African Jonathan Ntutu is expected to be his nearest challenger after running 10.99 seconds in the semi-final.
Team manager James Nolan was impressed by what he saw and is hoping for even better tonight.
"Jason got out amazingly well in his 100m semi-final and had the field put away after 20m. He looked very relaxed running 10.7 and the championship record.
"With Jason in this form the final will be very exciting."
Thrower Catherine O'Neill, a silver medallist in the discus at the London Paralympics, finished sixth in the final of the club throw with a distance of 13.34m. Smyth's 100m final will take place at 7.05 tonight, while Cork wheelchair sprinter John McCarthy goes in the T51 200m final at 4.10.