The Commonwealth champion Angela Ballard (NSW) has stolen the show on day one of competition at the IPC Athletics Grand Prix in Nottwil (SUI), with the five-time Paralympic medallist smashing the WORLD RECORD for the women’s T53 wheelchair 400m.
Stopping the clock in a stunning 54.73 to edge out a quality field including Chelsea McClammer (USA, second, 56.45) and her training partner Madison de Rozario (WA, third, 57.31), Ballard was 0.15 seconds faster than the previous quickest ever mark set by Jessica Galli (USA) on her way to winning gold at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games.
“I was hoping to do well in the series of racing we’ve got coming up but I didn’t expect that at all, I was more bothered about dealing with the wind. It was a very strong so it was really helpful down the back straight and down the home straight I just pushed as hard as I could,” Ballard said.
“The 400m is my favourite race, a lot of people hate it but it is something I have learned to love. It has given me great confidence for the next few races.”
Ballard’s performance sends a commanding message to her competitors from across the globe ahead of the IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha (QAT) later this year. The 32-year-old is a seven-time medallist at the event, including four (three silver, one bronze) at the Lyon 2013 instalment, with that most recent haul ensuring her being named the 2013 Para-Athlete of the Year by Athletics Australia.
Coached by Paralympic icon Louise Sauvage, Ballard’s trophy cabinet also features five medals from the Paralympic Games, including silver in the 400m at London 2012. She also reigned supreme in the women’s T54 wheelchair 1500m at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow (SCO) last year.
Ballard and De Rozario were joined in Nottwil (SUI) by a large contingent of Australia’s best wheelchair racers, with full results available by clicking here.
Not to be outdone, Collis Birmingham (Vic) has staked his maiden claim for selection to the Australian Flame team for the IAAF World Championships in Beijing (CHN) after he stopped the clock in 13:17.49, a qualifying mark, to place 8th in the men’s 5000m at the Prefontaine Classic.
Doubling as a qualification standard for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games next year, the performance was hard fought after a slower pace in the middle stages of the race forced athletes to chase the clock in the closing mile, as 2014 IAAF World Junior Champion Yomif Kejelcha (ETH) took line honours in 13:10.54. David McNeill (Vic) placed 13th in 13:40.93.
Birmingham’s start in Eugene (USA) follows his bronze medal winning performance in the distance medley relay at the IAAF World Relays earlier this month. He will again compete in the men’s 5000m at Round 5 of the IAAF Diamond League in Birmingham (GBR) next month, with his training partner Brett Robinson (Vic) to start alongside him.
Competition continues at the Prefontaine Classic tomorrow morning AEST, with Kathryn Mitchell (Vic, javelin), Ryan Gregson (NSW, mile) and Zoe Buckman (Vic, 1500m) all set to compete.
For more information on this event, which doubles as Round 3 of the IAAF Diamond League, please click here.