Michael McKillop fulfilled the goal that has spurred him on for the last four years.
In Beijing he was only able to win one gold medal in the T37 800m because the 1500m wasn’t on the programme and the Newtownabbey athlete had to watch his friend Jason Smyth win the sprint double.
On Saturday he retained his 800m Paralympic title and last night the 22-year-old showed why he’s in a different class from anyone else in the world as he once again dominated the competition coasting to victory in the longer distance, even having time to wave to the crowd in the home straight and then once he’d crossed the line turn and applaud the other athletes as they finished.
And what McKillop didn’t know was that his mum Catherine would be presenting the medals.
The surprise was kept from him and not for the first time in this amazing summer for Northern Ireland sport there were tears on the medal podium and just before the Irish National Anthem was played McKillop, who is trained by his father Paddy, blew a kiss to his mum.
“Whenever Jason won two gold medals in Beijing I was quite envious of him because he had the chance to do it and when I only won the gold in the 800m I came home and wished there was a 1500m because that’s my better and preferred discipline, so whenever I got notified there was going to be two races I was licking my lips,” said McKillop.
“It made me want to train even harder to go and try and win the double because and to break the Paralympic record in this event and the world record in the 800m is just brilliant.
“It feels unbelievable, it feels fantastic to be able to do it in front of such an incredible crowd cheering you on the whole way and even though there was a guy from Great Britain in the race I felt like they were cheering for me also.”
McKillop, who has a mild form of cerebral palsy, has now heaped the pressure back on his room mate Smyth who will look to retain his T13 200m title on Friday and he admitted: “That’s what I was trying to do. Jason won his gold medal on Saturday night and I had to come out and follow him and now for me to win two gold medals he has to go there and try and do the same. Fingers crossed that Jason can go out there and do that.”
As for the race itself the result was never in doubt. McKillop, supported by the Sports Institute of Northern Ireland, set a new Paralympic record of 4:08.11 to with Brad Scott a long way adrift in second place in a time of 4:14.47.
The Australian had gone with McKillop through the first 800m but when the Irishman put his foot on the accelerator the race was effectively over.
“I put a little spurt in to see if anyone could come with me and I felt really, really strong and at the bell I just pushed on again,” he said. There was no one who was going to take that medal from me especially in front of that crowd with my family and friends and on that track that is so unbelievably quick.”
This was Paralympics Ireland’s fifth gold medal with four won by athletes from Northern Ireland.