McKillop sets the trend with world record
OLYMPIC GAMES: MICHAEL McKILLOP has set the trend that even the likes of Usain Bolt will dream to follow by becoming the first male athlete to set an official world record in London’s new Olympic Stadium – the reigning Paralympic gold medallist clocking a superb 3.59.54 for the 1,500 metres.
Competing at the London Disability Athletics Challenge, a test event for the Paralympics back at the stadium later this summer, McKillop knocked an amazing 15 seconds off his previous world best of 4.14.81, set at last year’s Paralympic World Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand.
The 22-year-old from Co Antrim, who has a mild form of Cerebral Palsy, led home a field of T20 and T37 athletes, and highlighted the fact that to have run against a number of faster T20 athletes, who could act as pacesetters, helped him beat his previous best.
“My world record was 4.14, and today I was racing the T20s and their record is 3.52, so I kind of had to gauge how the other guys would run.
“But whenever I step on the track, whoever I’m racing I always want to beat them and today I knew I was capable of running 3:59.”
McKillop claimed Ireland’s first Paralympic gold on the track in Beijing four years ago, over 800 metres, and his performance yesterday has established himself as the clear favourite to win another gold later this summer.
The experience of competing in the new 80,000-seater Olympic stadium is also something that can only stand to him: “It was incredible and enjoyable and an experience I wanted to get out of my system,” said McKillop.
“It’s one of those things, you want to walk into a stadium for the Paralympic final without worrying or thinking ‘oh my God’ the stadium is huge or the track bigger.
“It’s only a 400m track with lots of seats around it basically, so it’s similar to where I train which is also a 400m track. I’ve just got to get used to it.
“It’s nice to be here and breaking a world record. Being the first male to do it in this stadium is quite a nice thought.”
McKillop is in fact aiming for both 800m and 1,500m T37 at London 2012, the Paralympic Games attracting 1,100 athletes in track and field events, contesting 170 medal events.