McKillop and Smyth both strike gold in London

 Jason Smyth Michael McKillop World Para Athletics Championships london
16 July 2017; Jason Smyth, left, and Michael McKillop of Ireland Gold Medal Winners during the 2017 Para Athletics World Championships at the Olympic Stadium in London. Photo by Luc Percival/Sportsfile

Two of Ireland’s biggest stars proved their worth on the big stage at the Olympic Stadium in London, as they picked up gold medals.

Derry’s Jason Smyth collected his sixth gold medal before Michael McKillop made it a double celebration for the Irish when he added his eighth world championship gold medal.

Smyth won gold in the T13 100m at the World Para Athletics Championships in a winning time of 10.63 seconds. It means that Smyth, a five-time Paralympic champion, remains unbeaten in international competition since making his debut at the European Championships 12 years ago.

The 30-year-old broke away from his rivals from halfway in a race confined to athletes with visual impairment.

“I knew from the heats I’d run the quickest and it was mine to lose, so it was just about going out and executing my race, being patient and thankfully I was able to cross the line first,” he said afterwards.

Season’s best

“I had my wife and my daughter in the crowd, and all my family, and it’s those moments that make it all the more special – to enjoy it with the people that mean the most.”

Moments later, Irish World award winner McKillop took the T38 800m in a season’s best time of two minutes 0.93 seconds.

“Myself and my dad came up with tactics for today from Beijing 2008,” the Ballymena native said afterwards.

“No one in that race today was in my race in Beijing, so they didn’t know what I was going to do.

“I looked over my right shoulder from 240m to go and did a pick up and the Canadian came right behind me and I just kicked and whenever I do that, no one can stay with me and I was able to come down the home straight knowing that I had a gap but I was able to keep driving on for the finish line.”

He was also delighted to be able to share the glory with his long-term teammate Smyth.

“It’s really special to have followed in the footsteps of your best friend. To have that moment to be able to do a lap of honour together after so many years competing in Paralympic sport.”

Teamwork

“Also to be able to do it here with my fiance and family in the crowd it’s even better. To see her in tears it just shows you that it’s teamwork. It’s not just me on the track – it’s my whole family and all the support team.”

And proving that there is still rising talent in the country, Kildare athlete Patrick Monahan made his World Championship debut in the heats of the T54 1500m.


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