In association with
Michael McKillop has enjoyed a career most athletes can only dream of.
With four Paralympic gold medals to his name, alongside four World Championships titles, the 31-year-old has earned the title of one of the best para-athletes of all time.
However, while it may appear like a lot of his career has been smooth sailing, in recent years McKillop has suffered a number of setbacks which culminated in him missing out on a podium finish for the first time at the 2019 World Championships.
Following a tough run of injuries, he is on a mission to get back to his best form as he looks towards the Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
“Tokyo will give me a platform to perform at a level that I haven’t performed at in a lot of years because I haven’t been fully fit”, stated McKillop in the third installment of Allianz’s Courage Chronicles series.
“The postponement of the Games in 2020 has given me the extra year that I needed”.
The Ballymena native is an ambassador for Allianz who have been a proud partner of Paralympics Ireland since 2010 and who were announced earlier this year as the Worldwide Insurance Partner of the Olympic & Paralympic Movements from 2021 to 2028. Through this partnership, Allianz will work with the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee to propose innovative and integrated insurance solutions that support the Olympic and Paralympic Games, sport fans, national teams and athletes.
McKillop shares that title with his teammate, friend, and long-time supporter Jason Smyth and the duo are embarking on their fourth Games together.
“I’ve got a big smile on my face when you say that because we’re best friends, we’ve been together since the start. We were found on the same day in Dublin at age 15 and 17, we’ve been to every Championship together, we’ve roomed together and we’ve won medals together.
“I think 2019 was really tough, tough for me because I didn’t win a medal and tough for Jason because though he won his gold medal, ordinarily we’d both win medals and we’d celebrate together. So he was being slightly more sensitive and I told him to wise up! Because that’s how sport goes.
“In 2019 I stood and watched the medal ceremony of my race happen because I wanted to visualise myself on that podium on Tokyo and congratulate my friends who were standing on that podium, even though I raced against them.
“Going to Tokyo with Jason will be an experience. Whether or not we both go to Paris is another thing but I just want to go there and enjoy myself and compete at the highest level. Jason is in really good shape going into it, I’m in the best shape I’ve been since 2013 on time so it’s moving in the right direction and hopefully two Allianz ambassadors can come home with medals again.”
In his Courage Chronicles video, McKillop admits that Tokyo may be his last Games. And although he has nothing left to prove to the public, or to the sport, he is determined to use the opportunity to prove to himself that he can still compete at the highest level.
“The one thing I need to prove to myself is that I can be back on that podium and competing against the best in the world. I have such an amazing opportunity. I’ve been successful in my career, I haven’t won anything that no one else hasn’t won before in my category. I’ve been branded the greatest middle-distance para-athlete of all time.
“Things like that really make me laugh because I see myself as an able-bodied athlete but when I step on the Para scene, I’m highly looked at and that’s quite nice because I’ve put so much hard work and effort in.
“For me what I need to prove to myself is that I can get back on that podium because I stood and watched that medal ceremony in 2019 because I wanted to really accept it and walk away, park that, and know that I am a better athlete than I was that day. And I believe come Tokyo, I can prove to myself and to my Dad, who is also my coach, that I am still good enough to compete.
“I’m going to have to take it year by year now but I hope I can win medals to continue on my journey and go to the World Championships next year. We’ll wait and see”.
Speaking at the launch of the third and final video in Allianz’s Courage Chronicles series is Allianz brand ambassador and four-time Paralympic gold medallist Michael McKillop.
Allianz Ireland have been proud partners of Paralympics Ireland since 2010 and are committed to promoting diversity and inclusion across the sporting community.
For more information go to https://www.allianz.ie/olympic-paralympic-movements/