Michael McKillop’s stunning front-running delivers second World Championship gold
Jason Smyth out to complete his double today in 100 metres
Michael McKillop celebrates winning the Men’s 1500m T38 final. Photograph: Getty Images
Some athletes have a hard time peaking again in post-Olympic year, but not Jason Smyth and Michael McKillop. Unless Smyth false-starts in today’s 100 metres final at the IPC World Championships in Lyon he will win another sprint double, just like he did at the London Paralympics last year.
McKillop, however, has already beaten Smyth to that feat, completing another middle distance double in the most emphatic style possible. Having won the 800 metres on Sunday with apparent ease, McKillop simply dominated the 1,500 metres yesterday with the sort of front-running tactics rarely seen in international competition.
His time proved as much – his 4:10.17 knocking some four and a half seconds off his own previous T38 championship best, set two years ago in Christchurch. The 23-year-old took up the running after 800 metres and no one else got a look in, although Tunisia’s Abbes Saidi ran well to take silver in 4:12.78, with Australia’s Deon Kenzie winning bronze in a personal best time of 4:14.21.
“I knew I was in good shape since Sunday and I was quite happy with the way it went,” said McKillop, who also won the 800 metres in a championship best of 1:57.17. “I sat until 800 metres to go and kicked on after that. I don’t know how big a gap I had on them, but I just kept pushing and pushing and relaxed the last 50 to 60 metres to the line.”
His only worry afterwards was the blistering on his feet – an almost inevitable side-effect to such blistering running – although McKillop admits he should be fine for the London Paralympics Anniversary Games, which take place back in the Olympic Stadium this Sunday.
By then Smyth will surely have won his second gold as well, having broke his own championship record in the T13 100 metres semi-finals yesterday morning.
Rooming with McKillop in Lyon, the 26-year-old from Derry ran 10.72, easily the fastest qualifier, with Namibia’s Nambala Johannes finishing second, who ran a personal best of 11.05.
South Africa’s Jonathan Ntutu won other semi-final in a time of 10.99, but once again Smyth looks to be in a class of his own – having won the 200m on Sunday in 21.05 seconds to equal his own world record.
James Nolan, Head of Irish Paralympic Athletics, was thrilled with Smyth’s display.
“Jason got out amazingly well in his 100 metres semi-final and had the field put away after 20 metres.
“He looked very relaxed running 10.7 and the championship record. With Jason in this form the final will be very exciting.”