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Michael McKillop

Athletics
5
1

Biography

Impairment information

Type of Impairment
Cerebral Palsy
Origin of Impairment
Congenital
Classification
T37

Further personal information

Family
Wife Nicole
Residence
Northern Ireland
Occupation
Athlete, Fitness Instructor, Motivational Speaker
Languages
English
Higher education
Leisure Management, Sport Management - Belfast Metropolitan College: Northern Ireland

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
He got involved in the sport in 2000 at Abbey Athletics Club in Belfast, Northern Ireland. After originally focusing on hurling, he began taking athletics more seriously when he moved schools to St. Malachy's College, where his father was head coach.
Why this sport?
His parents both competed in athletics, and his father was also a coach.
Club / Team
Bedford & County Athletics Club: England
Name of coach
Paddy McKillop [personal, father], NIR
Training Regime
He trains for up to seven days a week.

International debut

Year
2006
Competing for
Ireland

General interest

Nicknames
Mick (purerunning.co.uk, 27 Mar 2015)
Hobbies
Golf. (Athlete, 07 Nov 2019)
Memorable sporting achievement
Representing Ireland in able-bodied cross-country running at the 2009 European Championships in Dublin, Ireland. (Athlete, 07 Nov 2019)
Most influential person in career
His father. (Athlete, 07 Nov 2019)
Hero / Idol
His father. (Athlete, 07 Nov 2019)
Injuries
He suffered a groin injury at the 2017 World Championships in London, England, which kept him sidelined for over a year. After undergoing surgery in late 2018 he returned to training in the early part of 2019. (paralympics.ie, 05 Mar 2019; bbc.com, 04 Oct 2018, 07 Jun 2018)

A foot sprain prevented him from training in January 2015. (jumping-the-gun.com, 14 Jan 2015)

He suffered from a foot injury throughout 2013. (independent.ie, 28 Aug 2014)

In 2012 he needed surgery after he fractured the scaphoid bone in his right wrist when he fell off a bicycle while on holiday in Rome, Italy. (bbc.co.uk, 10 Oct 2012)

He missed two months of training after he injured his right foot in October 2011. (michaelmckillop.tumblr.com, 21 Oct 2011)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"Believe and achieve." (Athlete, 12 Jul 2017)
Awards and honours
He was appointed Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire [MBE] in the 2020 New Year's Honours list. (irishnews.com, 28 Dec 2019)

In 2017 he was inducted into the Belfast City Council Hall of Fame at the Belfast Sports Awards in Northern Ireland. (belfastcity.gov.uk, 27 Mar 2017)

He was named the 2015 Athlete with an Impairment of the Year at the Belfast Telegraph Sport Awards in Northern Ireland. (paralympics.ie, 26 Jan 2016)

He received the Mary Peters Trust Outstanding Sportsperson of 2013 award from Disability Sports Northern Ireland. (belfasttelegraph.co.uk, 09 Jan 2014)

In 2013 he received an honorary degree from Queen's University Belfast in Northern Ireland. (newtownabbeytoday.co.uk, 14 Dec 2013)

He and Kenyan Para athlete Mary Nakhumicha Zakayo received the Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. The honour is presented to the athletes who exemplified the best spirit of the Games by the International Paralympic Committee [IPC]. (rte.ie, 08 Sep 2012)
Other sports
He represented Ireland in able-bodied cross-country running at the 2009 European Championships in Dublin, Ireland. (Athlete, 07 Nov 2019)
Milestones
He was the first male athlete to set a world record at the Olympic Stadium in London, England. He achieved this during a test event in May 2012. (belfasttelegraph.co.uk, 04 Sep 2012)
Ambitions
To compete at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. (derrytrackclub.com, 10 Aug 2019)
Impairment
He was born with cerebral palsy due to him having a stroke while still in his mother's womb. He was diagnosed with the condition after he fell down some stairs at age two. "The condition affects the right side of my body and my skills with my right hand and foot are not as good as my left side." (Athlete, 12 Jul 2017; belfasttelegraph.co.uk, 04 Sep 2012; bbc.co.uk, 29 Aug 2012)
Other information
DARK TIMES
He has been affected by mental health issues during his career. He met with medical staff from Paralympics Ireland ahead of the 2012 Paralympic Games, but it was not until four years later during the lead-up to the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro that he sought help. "Winning races made me forget about it for a bit, but then you would go back to your room and think, 'That's another high gone, where is the next one going to come from.' I was at breaking point. I couldn't go on, I was thinking about giving up on life. I eventually got in touch with my GP and he put me in touch with a psychiatrist. I hid the letters from my parents. I would get them sent to my GP and he would organise another appointment with the psychiatrist. I broke it off with my wife, who was then my girlfriend, around that time. I pushed her away. I was selfish. She has since said that I should have told her and we could have worked through it but someone with mental health issues doesn't think about it like that. I think athletes need to understand that it's okay to feel sad and down but the most important thing is that you have to reach out. You have to talk about it when not everything is rosy in the garden." (independent.ie, 09 Feb 2020)

RETIREMENT THOUGHTS
He suffered a groin injury at the 2017 World Championships in London, England, which affected him for over a year. He contemplated retirement ahead of the 2019 World Championships, but he has since committed to competing at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. "I feel I've won my first battle in getting back after all the injuries and being able to wake up and run is good day. I intend carrying on until Tokyo but that will definitely be my last Paralympics. I have to take a broader view now and be more ambitious and focus on my family and professional career outside the competitive sport of a Para athletics." (derrytrackclub.com, 10 Aug 2019)

EPILEPSY
He was diagnosed with epilepsy at age 15. "The epilepsy has to be treated or it could take over my life, and I have to be careful not to overdo training. All the fits happen in my sleep so I know I'm going to be in a bed or somewhere safe, but when you do get one, it can leave you drained for up to a week and you barely leave your bed." (bbc.co.uk, 29 Aug 2012)

Results

Unit Date Rank
IPC Athletics World Championships Assen 2006 (Assen, Netherlands)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's 800 m T37 Heat 1 2
Men's 800 m T37 Final Round 1
Men's 1500 m T37 Final Round 2
Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games (Beijing, China)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's 800 m T37 Final Round 1
2011 IPC Athletics World Championships (Christchurch, New Zealand)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's 1500 m T37 Final 2011-01-26 1
Men's 800 m T37 Final 2011-01-28 1
London 2012 Paralympic Games (London, Great Britain)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's 800 m T37 Final Round 2012-09-01 1
Men's 1500 m T37 Final Round 2012-09-03 1
IPC Athletics World Championships (Lyon, France)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's 800 m T37 Final 1 2013-07-21 1
Men's 1500 m T38 Final 1 2013-07-24 1
IPC Athletics 2015 World Championships (Doha, Qatar)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's 800 m T38 Heat 3 2015-10-23 1
Men's 800 m T38 Final 1 2015-10-24 1
Men's 1500 m T37 Final 1 2015-10-30 1
Rio 2016 Paralympic Games (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's 1500 m T37 Final Round 2016-09-11 1
World Para Athletics Championships London 2017 (London, Great Britain)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's 800 m T38 Heat 1 2017-07-14 1
Men's 800 m T38 Final 1 2017-07-16 1
Men's 1500 m T37 Final 1 2017-07-22 1