7 June 2017
Ballard selected for a record seventh world championships
Sydney University wheelchair racer, Angie Ballard, who is in the best form of her career, was today named in a record seventh Australian world championships team. One of the greatest Australian Paralympians, Ballard was named amongst a team of 37 selected to contest the 2017 London World Para-Athletics championships. Ten NSW athletes, including legendary Kurt Fearnley will also make the journey to London.
In 1998, a 16-year-old, Angie Ballard, was selected to make her world championships debut. Nearly two decades later, she is still on the national team, now in the veteran class, she is making a record seventh appearance, two more than any other Australian women in history.
Ballard, who will contest the T53/54 100m to 1500m events and is in career-best form, after smashing personal bests, national records and even world records last week in Switzerland. In the 1500m she broke the Australian record, clocking 3:20.94, defeating Sydney-based WA athlete Madi de Rozario. Ballard took around 2.5 seconds from her PB and national record. In an extraordinary achievement, three days later she took another three seconds from her PB and the national record down to 3:17.77.
In the 400m, Ballard broke the world record of 54.53, but wound up third in the race, but she was compensated with another national record 54.36. A few days later she went even quicker and was again under the pre-meet world record, clocking a national record and PB of 54.17.
But she didn’t stop there, pushing under another world record in the 800m, clocking 1:47.24, but unfortunately she placed third and in second was her former training partner, WA’s Madi de Rozario who will now hold the national record.
In the 200m she broke her own Australian record with a time of 29.05, placing second to GBR’s Samantha Kinghorn who lowered the world record to 28.91. She closed the meet with a silver in the 100m where she clocked 16.81 but didn’t worry the record keepers.
With personal bests in the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m, Ballard undoubtedly heads to London brimming with confidence that things are on track.
“These championships mean a few things for me. To be making gains post Rio and this far into my career is both exciting and reassuring,” Ballard said.
“To be going back to London which was a turning point in my athletics career also feels good. I was much more anxious last time! London is going to be a big program for me and during quite a few changes in my training program. These changes are showing great promise through some recent pbs but are by no means fully realized. Some of my competitors have made huge gains since Rio and I think it'll be a tough competition but I'm really looking forward to putting some of the things we've been working on together on a good track amongst great racers.”
With a number of changes in her program since Rio, her aims for London are more focused on technique than medals or records.
“Goals probably centre round following process in each of my events to capitalize on some of these changes which aren't quite automatic yet. Results as usual will follow a good process.”
Returning to the national team is Wagga teenager Carly Salmon. She had made her national team debut back in 2013 at the world championships, securing selection again in 2015. But she was disappointed to miss the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games.
Last October Salmon revealed just how tough it had been missing selection for Rio.
“Missing out on the Paralympics was absolutely devastating and I was not sure if I was going to continue with athletics. When I was told I was not going I was shattered. I knew it was a strong possibility because my class had got so tough. I had to take a few weeks out. I was definitely a mess for a long time. But the support from my school, my parents and my friends has definitely got me back.”
But Salmon was able to put that behind her and compiled a tremendous 2016/17 season to enhance her selection prospects for London.
“Getting the call to say I had been selected in the team was a feeling words cannot describe,” Salmon said. “What I can say however is that this day will be one I will remember forever. To know that all the hard work and commitment has paid off is a truly amazing feeling. I am truly grateful to have been given this opportunity to compete for my country once again and I hope to make everyone, including myself, proud.”
The full list of selected NSW athletes are:
100m: Evan O’Hanlon (T38), Scott Reardon (T42)
200m: James Turner (T36, NSW)
400m: James Turner (T36, NSW)
800m: James Turner (T36, NSW)
1500m: Kurt Fearnley (T54, NSW)
5000m: Kurt Fearnley (T54, NSW)
Discus Throw: Guy Henly (F37, NSW)
100m: Angela Ballard (T53), Erin Cleaver (T38), Carly Salmon (T35)
200m: Angela Ballard (T53), Carly Salmon (T35)
400m: Angela Ballard (T53)
800m: Angela Ballard (T53)
1500m: Angela Ballard (T53)
Long Jump: Erin Cleaver (T38), Sarah Walsh (T44)
Discus Throw: Rae Anderson (F37)
Javelin: Rae Anderson (F37)
Sydney-based Western Australian:
800m: Madison de Rozario (T53)
1500m: Madison de Rozario (T53)
5000m: Madison de Rozario (T53)
David Tarbotton and Ron Bendall for Athletics NSW
Image: Angie Ballard (Getty Images)