World Para-athletics Championships: Michael McKillop eases into 800m final
|World Para-athletics Championships|
|Location: London Stadium, London Dates: Friday 14 July - Sunday 23 July|
|Coverage: Commentary on BBC Radio 5 live, BBC World Service and live updates on the BBC Sport website and app|
Michael McKillop safely progressed to Sunday's T38 800m final on the first day of competition at the World Para-athletics Championships in London.
Ireland's McKillop won his heat in 2:07.59 as he held off France's Louis Radius by 0.29 seconds.
The overall heats standard suggests McKillop will face a battle to maintain an unbeaten Paralympic record which stretches back to 2006.
Canada's Liam Stanley was the fastest qualifier with heat two in 2:05.89.
Stanley, second behind McKillop in the 1500m at last year's Rio Paralympics, was expected to be the Glengormley athlete's main challenger in both the 800m and the metric mile at the championships.
However, Tunisia's Abbes Saidi and heat three winner Australia's Deon Kenzie were also marginally faster than McKillop in the qualifying races in the London Stadium.
Nevertheless defending champion McKillop, who has run under two minutes for 800m on numerous occasions in able-bodied competition, will still be a strong favourite in Sunday's final.
|NI athletes London timetable|
|Sunday, 16 July||Jason Smyth (T13 100m heats 11:30, final 21:06)||Michael McKillop (T38 800m final, 21:15|
|Monday, 17 July||Smyth (T13 200m heats, 19:10)||James Hamilton (T20 1500m final, 21:05|
|Tuesday, 18 July||Smyth (T13 200m final, 19:55|
|Friday, 21 July||Hamilton (T20 800m heats, 20:13)|
|Saturday, 22 July||McKillop (T37 1500m final, 19:50)||Hamilton (T20 800m final, 20:30)|
McKillop and his Irish team-mate Jason Smyth will be expected to earn gold medals within 15 minutes of each other on Sunday evening.
Smyth will compete in the T13 100m, final shortly before McKillop's race, providing he comes through Sunday mornings heats in the sprint.
County Londonderry athlete Smyth, who turned 30 recently, has never been defeated during a Paralympic career which began in 2005.
Both McKillop and Smyth will also defend their 1500m and 200m titles later in the championships.
Meanwhile, Niamh McCarthy clinched Ireland's first medal of the championships as she took silver in the F41 discus final on Saturday morning.
The Cork woman's medal matched her silver at last year's Paralympics in Rio and improved on the bronze she won in the World Championships in Doha two years ago.
McCarthy, 23, produced a best throw of 26.17m in the fifth round.