WITH 80 DAYS to go until the curtain comes up on the 2012 Olympic Games, an Irish athlete has become the first male to set a new world record in London’s Olympic Stadium.
Michael McKillop, 22, from Ballymena smashed the 1,500m record at the Visa London Disability Athletics Challenge with a time of 3:59.54, shaving a full 15 seconds off his previous best time.
The reigning 800m and 1,500m world champion led home a field of T20 and T37 athletes, writing himself into the history of the purpose-built 80,000-seater stadium.
“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.
McKillop, who won 800m gold in Beijing four years ago, will now start as overwhelming favourite in the 800m and 1,500m T37 when the London Paralympics open on 29 August.
The Antrim native has a mild form of cerebral palsy, but raced today against a number of faster T20 athletes who have an intellectual impairment as well as his usual T37 rivals.
The mixed classification field allowed him to judge the pace a bit better, he revealed afterwards.
My world record was 4:14 and today I was racing the T20′s and their record is 3:52 so I kind of had to gauge how the other guys would run.
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.