McKillop storms to second gold


In everything, there is room for a little sweetness. Michael McKillop won his second gold medal of the Paralympic Games last night, just exactly as he expected to.

Then he was presented with that medal by his mother Catherine, which he very much did not expect at all. Such a tight secret was it that when we cranky old grouches in the press box were warned not to ask him about it in the mixed zone, we all gave it scout’s honour and kept schtum.

McKillop now has three Paralympic gold medals to his name; the two he’s won here piled upon his 800m gold from four years ago in Beijing. He won this 1,500m final as he pleased, hanging with the rest of the field until two laps out before going into overdrive with 800m to go.

Two laps from home, he was half a second up; by the time the bell came to tell him he only had a lap left, the margin was up to five.

In the end, he won by six and half and set a new Paralympic record along the way. All while spending the home straight waving to the crowd and thoroughly enjoying himself. He crossed the line in a time of 4:08.11 and then immediately turned around to clap home Brad Scott of Australia and Tunisia’s Mohamed Charmi, winners of the silver and bronze medals. Class means more than just running well.

The 22-year-old from Newtownabbey in Antrim then went off on his lap of honour and attended to his media duties, blithely unaware that it had been arranged for his mother to hang the medal around his neck 40 minutes after the race.

The mother whose son had a stroke before being born, killing off cells in one side of his brain, presaging his cerebral palsy. The mother who had never seen him race in the flesh at a major championships before last Saturday.

If there were any dry eyes in the house, we were too busy rubbing our own to notice.

It brought the Irish medal haul at these games to a very sparkly eight, five of them gold. The target set by Paralympics Ireland has been comfortably met and we’re only halfway through.