Northern Ireland Paralympic star Michael McKillop announces retirement

Northern Ireland Paralympic hero Michael McKillop has made time for an illustrious career, thanking his wife and parents for helping them “achieve my dreams”.

The person from Ballymena wrote a social media post on Thursday evening explaining that it was “one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made”.

The 31-year-old sprinter competed in her last Paralympic Games in Tokyo during the summer.

At the time he admitted that it was going to be his last race after a disappointing eighth-place finish in the T38 men’s 1500m final.

In his farewell message from racing, McKillop said it is “time to call it a day”, with a “smile on my face and tears in my eyes”.

“I knew this day would come on some level, but it’s a day I never wanted to come,” he said.

“I have some wonderful memories to look forward to. From competing in my first European ally at age 15 in 2005 to Tokyo 2020 age 31, I’m so lucky to be so wonderful in the sport I love.” It has been a career and it has been one of the most difficult decisions for me.

“I believe it is the right thing to do to announce my retirement today. I have always said that I want to compete and be competitive at the highest level in the sport for the island of Ireland. I feel like I did in the past. Have done this in 16 years.”

McKillop was a dominant force for many years in the T37 category – for athletes with cerebral palsy.

The Northern Irish sprinter won gold medals for Ireland at the Beijing and Rio Olympics, her crowning achievement being a double gold medal in the 800 meters and 1,500 meters in London in 2012.

Between the 2006 and 2019 World Championships, McKillop did not lose a single race, taking gold in Doha, Christchurch and Essen.

In the statement he said: “But finally a special mention to my parents, without them this dream could not have happened.

“From a young age, he believed in me and gave me the opportunity to try. Being diagnosed with a disabled child is any parent’s worst nightmare.

“He gave me the courage to admit my differences, and encouraged me to use them to my advantage. These differences gave me the opportunity to dream of becoming an international sprinter one day.

“In the last 16 years I took full advantage of it. He has given me the platform to become a skilled athlete on the world stage, which has helped in realizing my dreams.

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

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