Michael McKillop wins Ireland's second gold of Rio Paralympics
RUNNER Michael McKillop claimed Ireland's second gold of the Paralympics with a stunning victory in the T37 1500m on Sunday.
The 26-year-old from Ballymena, Co Antrim, who has a mild form of cerebral palsy, clinched his fourth Paralympic gold medal with a decisive win - just under four seconds ahead of his nearest rival - in 4:12.11.
He won a gold medal in the 800m Beijing and two more in the 800m and 1,500m at London 2012.
McKillop, who has been beset by injuries since the last Paralympics, said his latest medal was a personal achievement.
"This one is special because I've come through a really tough time... and I'm just glad that I was able to go out and win because of the tough times," he said.
"I had to stay focused and realise what life is about, it's not just about winning gold medals, it's about living and being proud to live the life that I have, and I'm lucky."
McKillop will not be able to go for a double at these games after the T37 800m was removed from the athletics programme.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny praised McKillop's achievement.
"I would like to congratulate Michael on his brilliant victory," he said.
"He has underlined his tremendous talent here again to add to the three gold medals he has already won."
"He is a truly inspirational figure and his achievements are a worthy reward for his dedication to his sport."
President Michael D. Higgins also offered his congratulations.
"On behalf of the people of Ireland, I want to convey my congratulations to Michael McKillop, a true champion and an inspiration for many budding athletes," he said.
McKillop's win came after Derry athlete Jason Smyth clinched Ireland's first gold medal, and his fifth gold at a Paralympics, when he won the T13 100m final on Friday.
Swimmer Bethany Firth, from Seaforde, Co Down, claimed a gold medal for Team GB when she won the S14 100m backstroke on Thursday.
And she won gold in Sunday night's S14 200m freestyle final after qualifying fastest for the race.