With the Olympics over the next largest sporting event is coming to Rio. It was amazing to have one athlete compete in Rio but now this year we will have two as new club member Michael McKillop takes on the T37 1500m in the Paralympics. Michael who already has two Paralympic golds in his cabinet will be looking to defend his title on the track. Conor Curran from the club had the opportunity to catch up with Michael in the build up to the event and ask how his preperation was going
Q: So Michael, Rio is just around the corner. How are you feeling?
A: There is a couple of words to explain how I am feeling right now; excited, determined and a little nervous!.
Q: What distances are running in Rio and when can we see your races?
A: I will be running in the T37 1500m on Sunday 11th September at 3.30pm UK time. This will be hopefully shown live on Channel 4.
Q: How has your build up to these Paralympics been different from London?
A: My build up to the Rio games has not been the same as London. For parts of 2014,2015 and early 2016 I have struggled with injures or slight niggles which has hindered my preperation. There has still been a lot of hard work, grit and determination been put into these Games. It just hasn’t been as smooth as I would like.
Q: What support have you relied upon to get you ready for Rio?
A: My journey to Rio has definitely been a massive team effort. Since I stepped off the track in London, the next major long term goal was trying to retain my titles. My coaching set up has been and always will be the most stable part of my team with my Dad and Fiancé. SINI (Sports Institute of Northern Ireland) look after my treatment and my Strength and Conditioning. They have been key to me getting back from injures over the last few years.
Q: You recently joined North Belfast Harriers. Why did you make that move?
A: I was formerly a member of St. Malachi’s AC during my school years. Post that I have been unattached to any club. As a North Belfast Lad I wanted to find a new club with a great set up, where I can hopefully bring something to in the next XC season and beyond.
Q: You can be often seen running around North Belfast. What do you make of this area and its running scene?
A: I have ran in the North of the city for my whole life. From the North Circular to the Cavehill Road and up to Donegal Park Avenue without mentioning the wonderful Cavehill Country Park. This part of the city is magnificent for running, I never tire of these roads.
Q: What are your expectations for Rio and who are your main competitors?
A: As the 2012 T37 1500m champion and reigning World Champion, I expect myself to perform at the highest level. If that performance is good enough on the day to retain my title then I will be satisfied. My main Competitor would have to be Brad Scott, this guy is a brilliant athlete who has pushed me to all my titles in the last number of years. In 2016 a young 19 year old Canadian has came out of the woodwork and has posted a great time, which throws him into the mix of athlete I need to keep a close eye on, but I know that going into the race if I perform to the best of my ability I should put me in the dust up for that top spot.
Q: How can we best follow your progress in Rio?
A: Everyone can keep up to date with my Rio journey across all of my Social Media accounts and also on my Official website.
@TeamMcKillop – Twitter & Instagram
Q: What are your plans for after Rio?
A: Myself and Fianceé have some exciting things to work on when I get home! I hope to take a small break from running and enjoy myself a little. All going well I hope to give Mud Madness a go and get a few rounds of golf in before starting the winter miles.
Q: And finally, if you could give any one piece of advice to anyone interested in starting athletics or running for a club like ours, what would it be?
A: The one thing I would say to anyone about taking up running – Anyone can take up running or join a club. At the beginning your ability is not the important part. If you are willing to work you can get the results!