Michael McKillop Responds To "Disgusting" Paul Kimmage Comments About Paralympic Athletes
Michael McKillop has issued a robust response to comments made by Sunday Independent journalist Paul Kimmage regarding the inclusion of Paralympic athletes on the shortlist for the 2017 RTE Sports Person of the Year.
Speaking on The Last Word with Matt Cooper, Kimmage was critical of the RTE award. Along with claiming that James McClean's victory made a "mockery" of the award, Kimmage was critical of the shortlist devised by RTE. He accentuated the absence of golfer Paul Dunne (winner of this year's British Masters) and cyclist Dan Martin (sixth in the Tour de France), while also claiming the presence of four Paralympic athletes (Michael McKillop, Jason Smyth, Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal) meant the list was "PC glorified".
Look at the list: it is PC glorified, politically correct glorified. Is there four Paralympians on it? I mean for Christ's sake, come on, it's just a joke.
There is no Paul Dunne, who wins a European Tour event in a sport that is massively, massively competitive. Not on the list. Dan Martin, sixth in the Tour de France. Not on the list. The list is the joke.
Speaking to Balls as part of a feature-length interview running later this week, Michael McKillop said he was "disgusted" by what he says is a failure to recognise Paralympians as elite athletes.
For me, he is in the dark ages. He is not seeing Paralympic sport for what it is. I'm an elite athlete, I train the same number of hours and I put the same amount of effort into training as any other able-bodied athlete would do. I'm funded by the Irish Sports Council like every other able-bodied athlete, so if you look at what Katie Taylor has done in the past, or Annalise Murphy does, I do the same. I'm in the gym five days a week - even though I am injured currently. I'm cycling four days a week, I'm swimming two days a week, and that's just when I'm off my feet from running because I'm injured.
So what he said was so inaccurate, and obviously rude and disrespectful to Paralympic athletes as he has to understand the athletes who compete in Paralympic sports are elite athletes, and train like elite athletes.
He has to understand that times have moved on and that we train as and are recognised as elite athletes.
For me it was disappointing and quite hard to take, especially after all of the effort we have had to put in to bridge the gap between Paralympic sport and able-bodied sport.
We train to promote Paralympic sport as elite sport, we are out there to represent our country at championships in the same way as able-bodied athletes. And if two World Championships gold medals are not enough to be nominated for the RTE Sports Awards, then I don't know what is.
For him to turn around and talk about Paul Dunne and Dan Martin...don't get me wrong, they are phenomenal athletes and incredible people but I'm not the person who selects them, and if that's who RTE wish to select, it's up to them. So the whole thing for me personally is him picking out Paralympic athletes and calling it a joke. That was the hardest thing to take, after all of the backing and support we have received over the last few years.
So for an Irish journalist to go back ten steps and slag off Paralympians is just disgusting in my opinion.
The full interview with Michael McKillop will run on Balls.ie later this week.