CHORLEY’S Paralympic star Graeme Ballard has regained his funding as part of UK Athletics’ World Class Performance Programme for 2013 – with Burnley hammer thrower Sophie Hitchon elevated to the podium squad.

Ballard had considered quitting athletics four years ago when he had his funding stopped after he failed to secure a medal at the Beijing Paralympics in 2008.

The 33-year-old Chorley Athletic Club member, who has cerebral palsy and suffers from epilepsy, was left to train at Horwich RMI without the help he had previously been granted thanks to his funding from UK Athletics.

But Ballard was determined to remain in the sport and secured a silver medal in the T36 100m at the London Paralympics – eight years after winning gold in the 200m in Athens.

And his performance this summer has proved enough to see him reinstated to the list of athletes to receive funding. The money is given to those athletes regarded as contenders to medal at the 2016 Games in Rio.

Hitchon was named in UK Athletics’ development squad last year – the second tier of funding.

But the Blackburn Harriers athlete has now been elevated to the podium squad, receiving full funding, after making the final of the hammer competition at the Olympics.

The 21-year-old set a new British record in qualifying in London and is tipped to progress further in the years to come, possibly challenging for a medal in Rio.

Fellow Blackburn Harriers athlete Holly Bleasdale was named in the podium squad last year and has been retained on the list after finishing sixth in the pole vault final in London.