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Ballard on track for fourth Paralympic Games
Selection to a fourth Australian team for the 2012 Paralympic Games couldn’t have come at a better time for Angela Ballard (NSW).
She is ranked number one internationally in the wheelchair 100m and 200m (classT53) and will head to London on the back of a strong campaign at the Swiss Wheelchair National Championships last month where she won three medals.
Ballard said: “I’m lucky enough to have Louise Sauvage as my coach, we’ve worked together since she retired in 2004 and it has been a really big journey for us. I’ve had to change as an athlete and she has had to develop as a coach. We are beginning to get it really right so I am excited about what this year can bring.
“The past twelve months have been really tough, the world championships last year wasn’t great and I was questioning whether or not I wanted to be involved still.
“Louise and I threw the baby out with the bath water and literally started again. We looked at every aspect of my events and took it back to basics as best as we knew how, we consulted as many people as we needed to make sure that I found my best form again and I’m starting to build some momentum.
“I’m currently ranked number one in the 100m and 200m for athletes with my disability and for that reason I want to be a medallist in London. My results suggest that I am capable and I haven’t been in such a strong position before.
Ballard is a paraplegic, acquiring her injury in a car accident in 1989.
She has donned the green and gold of Australia at the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Paralympic Games previously, as well as the Commonwealth Games in 2006 and the IPC Athletics World Championships in 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2011.
On scholarship at the New South Wales Institute of Sport, her eight Australian appearances have delivered five medals, including three relay gold medals, with her most recent Paralympic outing in Beijing delivering finals appearances in all four of her selected events - the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m.
Ballard continued: “I became involved in Paralympic sport thanks to a pushy P.E teacher, and my parents were really keen for me to become involved in sport too, so I joined a local club for wheelchair athletes and the rest is history really.
“I’ve had so many Australian team experiences now and all have been fantastic, the green and gold just do mateship so well and that makes selection in recent weeks such a big reward for all the hard work so far.
“Sydney was my first Paralympic Games and it was unbelievable, the atmosphere of the stadium was out of this world and you can never complain about a home Games.
“That said it was a pretty daunting experience too, I was young and maybe felt a little out of my comfort zone which is quite common in debutante athletes and from that I have learnt so much and matured into someone that really thrives in the village environment.
Ballard is joined on the athletics team at the 2012 Paralympic Games by an already selected 35 athletes with her journey to the main event in the coming months to include another training block in Switzerland with her wheelchair racing teammates including Kurt Fearnley (NSW), Richard Colman (Vic) and Madison De Rozario (WA).
She will arrive at the Athletes Village on August 26, before the opening ceremony three days later and the commencement of athletics competition on August 31.
Ballard said: “It’s really cool to see so many new faces in this team, the energy amongst the group is fantastic and I know as a squad will come together andlook to do our best for Australia.
“The senior ranks this year are so knowledgeable about what can happen at a major championship and that will bode well for our first timers. I’m hoping I have some of that wisdom and that the experience of the newcomers is as good as it possible can be.
“Weare a strong team and I’m confident that you will see us deliver on the medal table.”
The 2012 Paralympic Games will be the fifteenth Paralympics, the second to be hosted in Great Britain after Stoke Mandeville in 1984 and the first to be staged in London.
An estimated 4200 athletes and officials from 165 countries will compete across 20 sports at the Games.
By Athletics Australia