Rio 2016: Michael McKillop clinches Paralympics gold as he retains T37 1500m

Michael McKillop celebrates clinching the fourth Paralympics gold of his career
Michael McKillop retained his T37 1500m in Rio
Rio Paralympic Games
Venue: Rio de Janeiro Dates: 7-18 September Time in Rio: BST -4
Coverage: Live updates, video clips, medal table, results and news alerts, catch-up service, plus commentary on BBC Radio 5 live. Television coverage on Channel 4.

Michael McKillop became the third Northern Ireland athlete to clinch a gold medal at the Rio Paralympics as he retained the T37 1500m title on Sunday.

Glengormley man McKillop, 26, held off a challenge from Canada's Liam Stanley to win in 4:12.11 as he took the fourth Paralympic gold of his career.

Northern Irish athletes Bethany Firth and Jason Smyth have already won gold at the Rio Games.

McKillop won 800m gold in Beijing before earning a double at London 2012.

The Team Ireland athlete will not be able to go for a double at the Rio Games after the International Paralympic Committee opted to remove the T37 800m from the athletics programme.

Algeria's Madjid Djemai, who finished fourth in the event in London, took bronze in 4:17.28 after leading by around 10 metres after the first lap.

McKillop moved ahead after 700m and after being tracked by Stanley for the next 500m, the Irish athlete pulled clear in the closing stages to finish 5.61 seconds ahead of the Canadian.

Michael McKillop shows off his Rio gold medal
Michael McKillop revealed that a vitamin deficiency threatened his Rio participation during the summer

McKillop unbeaten at Paralympic level since 2005

The Northern Irishman, who was diagnosed with a mild form of cerebral palsy at the age of two, has been undefeated in Paralympic competition since the 2005 IPC European Championships and went into this year's Games as an odds-on favourite to retain the 1500m title.

However, the world record holder, who was clinching Ireland's third medal of the Games, revealed after his triumph that a vitamin deficiency had almost ended his hopes of competing in Rio.

"Five weeks ago, I ran 4:30 in an able-bodied race and I hadn't run that slowly since I was 15 years of age," McKillop told Channel 4.

"It was because I was low in Vitamin B12. I couldn't get out of bed some days.

"It was tough to get here but once again my coach, my dad (Paddy) and my fiancee (Nicole) worked very hard to get me here.

"The positive is I've come here and defended my title. I represent the island of Ireland, north and south, and hopefully people feel I've done them proud," added McKillop, whose world record is a 3:59.54 clocking.

Swimmer Firth won gold for Britain in the S14 100m backstroke on Thursday and the county Down woman will aim to clinch a second gold in the 200m freestyle final on Sunday evening.

Team Ireland athlete Smyth, who is from Eglinton, retained his T13 100m title on Friday while Galway cyclist Eoghan Clifford also won a bronze on Friday.

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