The world of wheelchair racing will make its annual pilgrimage to compete in Nottwil (SUI) this weekend, with an Australian squad that includes marathon star Kurt Fearnley (NSW) and Doha 2015 gold medallists Angela Ballard (NSW) and Madison de Rozario (WA) set to join them.
Battling it out at what is arguably the fastest meet on the planet for their discipline, Fearnley is scheduled to start in the longer 1500m and 5000m, while both Ballard and de Rozario boast busy schedules with races from 100m through to the 1500m.
“I don’t know what shape I’m in, that’s what makes me so eager to race here. In January, during the Australian season I was racing faster than I was at the same time last year, and I’ve come to this event healthy and injury free. We’ll have to see what I am capable of but I’m very happy with where I am at.
“My schedule is pretty much set for Rio now. I’m doing more here than I will there, but the bigger schedule this weekend will give me a better understanding of how to develop the right race plans for the Paralympics, what tactics we’ll consider to set the pace, or sit within the pack, and where I think my strengths are ahead.”
Ballard is also impressed by how well her green and gold teammates are progressing, with many of the more than ten starters on entry lists chasing an Athletics Australia ‘A’ Standard for the Paralympic Games.
“This competition is always fast, it’s always held on a quick surface for wheelchairs and it very well organised for us, with great facilities and support for those that compete. I’ve been coming here for 15 years and I think people know that it is the place to be in May, that’s why everyone keeps coming back, because there are great opportunities here,” Ballard said.
“Everyone is pushing really well. I’m so excited to see how everyone races. There are a few here still chasing qualifiers for Rio and they are really positive about it. Now they just have to convert that confidence into action and it should be a great campaign.”
For able-bodied athletes, the IAAF Diamond League continues in Eugene (USA), Rome (ITA) and Birmingham (GBR) in the coming fortnight.
Linden Hall (Vic) will fly the flag at the Prefontaine Classic after clocking a new personal best of 4:04.47 to stake her maiden claim for Rio 2016 selection earlier this month, while the Golden Gala features Kathryn Mitchell(Vic), Fabrice Lapierre (NSW), Ryan Gregson (Vic) and Benn Harradine (Qld).
Morgan Mitchell (Vic) has been added to the entry lists for Round 6 of the IAAF Diamond League alongside six other Australians including the London 2012 Olympic champion Sally Pearson (Qld).
Closer to home, the 56-strong Australian team for the IAAF World Under 20 Championships in Bydgoszcz (POL) will attend a preparation camp in Townsville (Qld), competing as part of the North Queensland All-Comers.
26-29 May: IPC Athletics Grand Prix (Round 8) – Nottwil (SUI)
Wheelchair 100m: Rosemary Little (NSW), Angela Ballard (NSW), Jemima Moore (Vic), Rheed McCracken (Qld), Sam McIntosh (Vic), Matt Cameron (Qld), Sam Carter (Qld)
Wheelchair 200m: Rosemary Little (NSW), Angela Ballard (NSW), Matt Cameron (Qld)
Wheelchair 400m: Rosemary Little (NSW), Angela Ballard (NSW), Jemima Moore (Vic), Rheed McCracken (Qld), Sam McIntosh (Vic), Richard Colman (Vic), Kurt Fearnley (NSW), Richard Nicholson (ACT), Sam Carter (Qld)
Wheelchair 800m: Rosemary Little (NSW), Angela Ballard (NSW), Madison de Rozario (WA), Jemima Moore (Vic), Rheed McCracken (Qld), Richard Colman (Vic), Richard Nicholson (ACT), Matt Cameron (Qld), Sam Carter (Qld)
Wheelchair 1500m: Angela Ballard (NSW), Madison de Rozario (WA), Jemima Moora (Vic), Richard Colman (Vic), Kurt Fearnley (NSW), Richard Nicholson (ACT)
Wheelchair 5000m: Madison de Rozario (WA), Kurt Fearnley (NSW)
By Athletics Australia