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Ballard wins Paralympic silver on the track
7:00am Monday 3rd September 2012 in Sport
Graeme Ballard was just 10 metres away from Paralympic gold, but had to settle for 100 metres silver last night.
The 33-year-old from Chorley got off to a fantastic start in his T36 final and led for most of the race only to be hauled in close to the line by Russia’s Evgenii Shvetcov.
World record holder Ballard, who has cerebral palsy, held on strongly to come home second in 12.24 seconds, 0.16secs off Shvetcov’s new Paralympic record.
It was a fantastic display from Ballard who ran a near perfect race – unlike his semi final earlier in the day when he stumbled out of the blocks.
On that occasion, Ballard – who appeared too keen to get a good start – recovered to clock 12.68 seconds to finish in second place behind Ukrainian Roman Pavlyk, who managed 12.50s.
In the second semi final, it was Shvetcov who underlined his medal credentials when he set a new Paralympic record of 12.11s with Ballard’s team-mate Ben Rushgrove also reaching the final after running a season’s best 12.35s to finish second.
The final was billed as a showdown between Ballard and Rushgrove but it was Shvetcov who proved to be the Chorley runners main rival for the gold medal.
In the final itself, roared on by 80,000 spectators inside the Olympic Stadium, Ballard ran the near perfect race.
He was quickest out of the blocks and appeared to be pulling away from his rivals.
However, with the finishing line agonisingly close, Shvetcov edged past Ballard to take gold medal – breaking the Paralympic record he has set earlier in the day.
Despite the disappointment of missing out on gold, it was still a remarkable feat for Ballard who had set a new world record earlier in the year.
And this came after he revealed he almost quit his Paralympic dream after being dropped by the sport's governing body following his Beijing disappointment.
The Chorley sprinter, who has cerebral palsy, had his funding cut after failing to medal at the Olympics four years ago – and has since been battling the odds ahead of London 2012.
The Chorley Athletic Club member had previously won bronze in the 200m at Athens in 2004 but, when he was unable to repeat his past successes, Ballard was unceremoniously dumped.
Now after winning a silver medal, Ballard will take time before deciding whether London 2012 was his last major event.