16 June 2016
Conor McIlveen may come home without a medal from the IPC European Championships but showed he is capable of making a big impact in Paralympic competition in future.
Last Saturday (June 12) The Derry IT specialist showed all the nerves of a debutant when he took sixth in the T38 1500m in 4:45.89. He started cautiously and consequently was never in the mix for a medal as France’s Louis Radius strode to a comfortable victory in 4:20.01.
However, there was no sign of nerves today when he lined up for the 800m. Drawn in lane 8, Big Dog went off aggressively and was in fourth spot as that man Radius led through the bell in 62 seconds.
He looked as though he was going to slip back to fifth on the backstraight as Spain’s Raiss Fakhroeddine started a charge behind him which saw him momentarily up to fourth spot on the final bend.
McIlveen responded by digging in and even upped the pace on the last 100 metres but fell just a second short of the elusive bronze medal despite running a personal best 2:13.79.
“Conor was disappointed after his 1500m but we talked about it and took the positives from it,” said coach Mal McCausland. “You can’t underestimate the effect of running at this level for the first time and this is part of the learning experience.”
“He certainly was a different athlete in the 800m, which might prove to be his best event going forward. It was certainly good to see the Big Dog out there battling with the best. Really he is still a novice and I can see big improvement in the next 12 months”