"Going into the Paralympic Games was a massive risk" - Michael McKillop shares injury concerns prior to gold medal success

McKillop defended his 1500m title and won a fourth Paralympic gold medal this afternoon in Rio

BY Cian Roche 21:28 Sunday 11 September 2016, 21:28 11 Sep 2016

Image: Paralympics Ireland

1500m gold medallist Michael McKillop admitted he suffered a few nervous weeks in the build-up to the Paralympic Games in Rio as he struggled with injuries.

McKillop successfully defended his crown this afternoon in Rio, winning the event in comfortable fashion and after the race he explained that there had been a few hitches during his preparations for the Games.

"Last week I ran 4.30 in an able-bodied race in Scotland and that was me flat to the board," he told Newstalk Sport's Oisin Langan. "I had vitamin B12 deficiency, I struggled to get out of bed. At times I couldn't really train, so going into the Paralympic Games was a massive risk.

"We were doing two days on, one day off and running at basic heart-rate on advice from doctors. I knew that if I pushed my body too hard I wouldn't be able to compete. There was a lot of teamwork and hard work put in. I had a foot injury as well. A couple of bones in my right foot have fused together and are causing a lot of pain when I wake up in the morning or if I sit for long periods of time. 

"But once again, it's a team effort. My physio back at the Institute [of Sport] and the work that Paralympics Ireland do, the sport institute in Northern Ireland and the people who have helped me get to where I am today, I owe them massive credit.

"I did sessions after I got my vitamin B12 sorted out, I was rested and recovered. I was doing sessions that would blow any of those athletes out of the water. I got back with about two weeks to spare and thankfully that was the case. I've had injuries in the past... it's part and parcel of athletics. It's just one of those things. Mentally when I spoke to you the other day, I knew I was good enough to win. But I knew that those athletes were going to turn up and compete at the highest level. I was put in a scenario that I had never been in before... I showed the people no matter what way the race goes, I can always compete at the highest level and come out on top."

Today's achievement constitutes his fourth Paralympic gold medal and he said that even after overcoming injury to secure victory, it was still unique to his other victories.

"It's a special moment. I guess having to live up to people's expectations like I said earlier in the week is probably the hardest thing but I'm glad I've been able to do it and I guess the golden run continues. 

"Every medal is different, every title is different and there's a different meaning behind every title. You have to look at it one by one.

"I won my first Paralympic gold medal in 2008 and that was unexpected for me personally because I didn't think I'd ever get to be a Paralympic champion. So for me that was the starting point. In London I was expected to win and because I was in such good shape I just wen there and performed. Because it was so close it was like a home Games. I was content there.

"When we went on to Rio I think people did expect [me to win] because I hadn't been beaten in nine years. But there's always been that doubt with injuries and other things that have gone on in my life. I've just shown again the resilience, determination, passion something that you really want and feel that you deserve if you put that all in collectively and perform like I did today, you're going to come up a success."


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