ATHLETICS might be a young man’s game but Graeme Ballard proved that age is only a number after he smashed the 100m world record at the BT Paralympic World Cup in Manchester.
At 32, Ballard is very much an elder statesman in the athletics world and will call time on his career after the Paralympics in September.
But with London 2012 now less than 100 days away, Ballard showed that he is very much a contender to improve on his 200m Paralympic bronze in Athens eight years ago.
At the event in Manchester, Ballard was a cut above the competition, including his domestic rival and Beijing silver medallist Ben Rushgrove.
Ballard took 0.17 off the world mark to become the first man to dip under 12 seconds in the T36 category 100m, finishing in 11.98.
And as if that wasn’t enough he helped himself to a second personal best on his way to a second gold in the 200m, in 25.12.
He said: “I’ve had days like this but not for a long time. This has been one of the best days I’ve had.
“I just went out all guns blazing to get what I got. “I got a personal best, I couldn’t ask for anything else after getting a world record in the first race.
“ I just wanted to go out and enjoy it.
“I wasn’t expecting to break the world record. The preparation has been absolutely fantastic.
“I’ve been going well in both the 100 and 200 so far this season. I just want to carry on and try to improve. I was coming in just to run and what I got, I got.
“But to get two golds was a real bonus. I’ve got the Europeans at the end of June so I want to stay in that sort of form for them.”
Ballard was in action a fortnight ago at the Olympic Park in the London Disability Athletics Challenge where he got his first taste of the London venue.
And having competed in Beijing four years ago, Ballard insists London will be far less claustrophobic than the Bird’s Nest Stadium in the Chinese capital.
He added: “In Beijing the crowd was on top of us but in London it will be a bit more set back so we’ll be able to breathe. We won’t be swamped.
“The test event went well and this has just carried on from the test event.
“I am really starting to get that feeling that things are starting to turn.
“It’s less than 100 days, I’m getting in shape for it now.
“It’s just an accumulation of work that has led to this.”
- The BT Paralympic World Cup took place in Manchester from 22-26 May with elite international athletes competing in Athletics, Football 7-a-side and Wheelchair Basketball. Go to www.btparalympicworldcup.com for more information
- Do you know any Olympians or Paralympians from the Chorley or Leyland areas? Then ring 01257264911 or email firstname.lastname@example.org