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Ballard hits silver streak
3:29pm Thursday 27th May 2010 in Graeme Ballard
Chorley’s Graeme Ballard quickly poured cold water on his World Championship hopes despite re-announcing himself on the international stage with a silver medal at the BT Paralympic World Cup in Manchester.
The 30-year-old cerebral palsy sufferer has been in relative international exile since he missed out on a medal at the 2008 Paralympics and saw his funding from UKA cut completely.
Ballard’s struggles continued at last year’s Paralympic World Cup when he was forced to settle for two fourth-place finishes in the 100 and 200m, but the Chorley AC ace was back to his best in the Manchester Regional Arena on Tuesday claiming silver in the same events – both times behind South African Fanie Van Der Marwe.
This time though the competition was even tougher than usual as the T36, T37 and T38 classes were all combined, and Graeme was the only T36 – the highest level of disability – in both races.
With the World Championships in New Zealand looming ever larger on the horizon in January, Ballard was understandably delighted with his Manchester displays, and his rapid times of 12.78 seconds and 26.26 seconds, but wouldn’t be drawn on any future plans.
“I just went out there to do my best,” said Ballard, who claimed World Championship silver in the 100m back in 2008. “I wasn’t expecting a medal or anything – I just went out there to run and if I got a medal, I got a medal.
“Coming into the 200m, I was just out there to have a good run and I wasn’t focusing on position. But after running a good time in the 200m, I was hoping I could do another one in the 100m.
“And in the end it was just as quick. That’s two silvers and I couldn’t really have asked for much more on the day really.
“I’m not sure where I’m going now. I’ll have to go back and look at the schedule but I’m definitely feeling confident. I’m not necessarily thinking about times and World Championships qualification though.”
Fellow Paralympian and Ballard’s Chorley AC team-mate Michael Churm missed the Manchester event after picking up an injury.
l The BT Paralympic World Cup is taking place from 25-31 May and features the world’s leading international Paralympic athletes in Athletics, Football 7-a-side, Swimming and Wheelchair Basketball. The supporting partners are Northwest Regional Development Agency and Manchester City Council. www.btparalympicworldcup.com