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Page last updated at 12:10 GMT, Wednesday, 10 September 2008 13:10 UK

McKillop claims gold for Ireland

McKillop claimed an emphatic victory in Beijing

Michael McKillop smashed his own T37 800 metres world record as he claimed Ireland's first gold medal of the Paralympics in Beijing.

The Belfast man clipped almost three seconds off his previous mark as he strode to an emphatic win in 1:59.39.

McKillop was in second place as the leaders went to the bell in 58.74 seconds but he unleashed a decisive burst with 200 metres remaining.

The 18-year-old was claiming Ireland's first Paralympic gold since Sydney.

McKillop, who has a mild form of Cerebral Palsy, went into the race as the favourite after claiming the world title in Assen two years ago.

The Irish athlete finished over three seconds ahead of Australia's Brad Scott (2:02.71) while France's Djamel Mastouri (2:03.04) was in third place.

McKillop went on a joyous lap of honour after his victory.

"Just like the Olympics, paralympians deserve a lap of honour so I had to take my opportunity," McKillop told BBC Sport.

Paddy Barnes and me, we can be legends in Belfast and make Ireland proud
Michael McKillop

"I knew what I had to do. My coach, my dad, got it all right.

"He told me to wait until 300 to go and if anybody went, to cover their move but to ideally go with 210 or 220 to go.

"I did that and blew the field away."

McKillop acknowledged that he had been extremely nervous prior to the final.

"But then I just decided to forget about it. All I could do was to try and win and that's what I did."

The Belfast runner said that he hoped the victory would "mean an awful lot" to the people back home.

"Like Paddy Barnes in the Olympic. Him and me, we can be legends in Belfast and make Ireland proud."

McKillop's father and coach Paddy spoke of his "pride" after the race.

"I'm a very proud father. This has been a long journey and a long season," said Paddy.

With 100 to go I could smile - it was a huge relief
McKillop's father and coach Paddy

"He had a great cross country campaign but then had some sickness at the start of the track season so it didn't go to plan.

"The main aim was to get him back healthy and this is a superb win.

"When he passed me with about 120 metres to go I could see he had a good gap and he wouldn't let that go.

"With 100 to go I could smile - it was a huge relief."

An emotional McKillop received his gold less than an hour after his win and the Belfast man waved Irish and Chinese flags on the podium as he accepted his gold medal.

McKillop is Ireland's second medal winner at the Games after Gay Shelly claimed a bronze in the Boccia BCI class on Tuesday.

Shelly won gold in the event at the 2000 Paralympics in Sydney.

see also
McKillop mission
03 Sep 08 |  Paralympics
Reception held for Paralympians
22 Jul 08 |  Paralympics
Irish Paralympic selection named
02 Jul 08 |  Paralympics
Paralympics day two photos
08 Sep 08 |  Paralympics
Golden haul for GB on opening day
07 Sep 08 |  Paralympics
Schedule - Monday 8 September
16 Aug 08 |  Paralympics
Paralympic challengers: Dave Weir
02 Sep 08 |  Paralympics
British cyclists win three golds
07 Sep 08 |  Paralympics
Kindred claims fifth gold in pool
07 Sep 08 |  Paralympics
Where will Paralympic medals be won?
04 Sep 08 |  Paralympics
GB Paralympic team for Beijing
24 Jul 08 |  Paralympics

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