Michael McKillop misses out on medal at World Para-Athletics Championship

Irish runner loses first race in Para-athletics competition since 2005 in Dubai

Michael McKillop finished fourth in the  T38 1,500 metres final at the 2019 World Para-Athletics Championships in Dubai. Photograph: Kieran Galvin/Inpho

Michael McKillop finished fourth in the T38 1,500 metres final at the 2019 World Para-Athletics Championships in Dubai. Photograph: Kieran Galvin/Inpho

 

Nine-time World champion Michael McKillop has lost his first race in Para-athletics competition since 2005 after finishing fourth in the T38 1,500 metres final at the 2019 World Para-Athletics Championships in Dubai.

Victory went to the Canadian Nate Riech in a new championship record of 4:02.04, with McKillop clocking 4:09.07 in fourth, in what is also a championship record in his T37 category.

However, organisers combined both T37 and T38 categories for championship purposes in the 16-man final, with Ireland’s David Leavy also setting a personal record with a time of 4.23.86 to finish ninth.

After missing all of 2018 after a career-threatening groin injury, McKillop found himself chasing the lead runners from the gun. Riech made his break for home from two laps out to win his first world title. Fifth at the bell, McKillop closed into the fourth in the homestretch, his first loss at Para-athletics level since being beaten as a 15-year-old at the IPC European Championships back in 2005.

Riech was always going to be the man to beat, after setting a new T38 world record of 3:57.00 in June; McKillop has a fastest personal best of 3:55.23 set in able-bodied competition, his quickest time in Para-athletics competition was the 3:59.54 clocking set in London in May 2012, four months before he won double Paralympic gold on the same track.

At 29, the four-time Paralympic champion is still eying up the Tokyo Paralympics next summer, his fourth place finish here securing Team Ireland a qualifying spot in that event next summer.

It follows the gold medal won by his long-time Ireland team-mate in the 100 metres, Jason Smyth winning his 20th gold medal in a Para-athletics sprint event with victory in the 100 metres T-13 final on Wednesday. At age 32 the Derry athlete is showing no signs of slowing down, clocking a championship record of 10.54 seconds to win his ninth World Para-Athletics gold in all, including one indoors, and his fifth out of the last six over the 100m.

That also added to the first medal won by Team Ireland in Dubai, after Niamh McCarthy threw a fourth round best of 29.70 metres to win the bronze medal in the F41 discus, having sat just outside the medals in the earlier rounds.

A championship record in his category will be some consolation for McKillop, only on this occasion the medal wasn’t to be.

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