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Irish Paralympic legend Michael McKillop retires at 31

The Antrim man reflected on a superb career.

Michael McKillop (file pic).
Michael McKillop (file pic).
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

IRISH PARALYMPIAN Michael McKillop has announced his retirement from the sport after a highly decorated 16-year career.

The 31-year-old Ballymena native bows out after a hugely impressive showing.

Highlights have included four gold medals at the Paralympics in three separate Games — two in the 800m T37 (Beijing and London) and two in the 1500m T37 (London and Rio).

However, he suffered disappointment in the Tokyo Paralympics earlier this year, finishing eighth in the Paralympic T38 1500m final, and suggesting at the time that he was considering his future in the sport.

“I knew this day would come at some stage, but it’s a day I never wanted to arrive,” he wrote in a message posted on social media.

“I have some amazing memories to take away. From competing at my first European Companionships back in 2005 age 15 to Tokyo 2020 age 31, I am so fortunate to have had such an amazing career within the sport I love and this has been one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make.

“I believe that announcing my retiring today is the right thing to do. I’ve always said I wanted to compete and be competitive at the highest level in sport for the island of Ireland. I feel like I’ve done that over the last 16 years.

“But lastly a special mention to my parents, without them this dream couldn’t have happened.

“From a young age, they believed in me and gave me the opportunity to TRY. Having a child diagnosed with a disability is any parents worst nightmare.

“They gave me the courage to embrace my differences, encouraging me to use them to my advantage. These differences allowed me to dream of becoming an international runner one day.

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“Something I took full advantage of over the last 16 years. They have given me the platform to become an accomplished athlete on the world stage, helping my dreams come true.

“I am happily running away from competitive Paralympic sport knowing that I gave it my all. See you all on a start line somewhere soon to have some fun.”

About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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