22 May 2012
Graeme Ballard (coach: Steve Thomas) smashed the men’s T36 100m World Record in today’s BT Paralympic World Cup (Tuesday 22 May) in 11.98 (+1.9m/s), becoming the first cerebral palsy athlete in history to duck under 12 seconds in that category.
32-year-old Ballard - who won 200m bronze on his Paralympic Games debut in Athens in 2004 - appears to have at last recaptured the world class form he showed to medal in that event eight years ago. Now, at arguably the most crucial point in his career, he’s become a serious gold medal contender in London.
“I feel absolutely amazing. What can I say…I just need to keep it going all the way now to the Paralympic Games,” said Ballard, who erased the five-year-old global best of 12.15 set by China’s Wa Wai So in 2007.
“I’ve been working on the middle and end phases of my race but we’ve kept everything else the same, I’ve just been working extremely hard and it’s all going really well at the minute.”
Steve Thomas, Ballard’s coach, admitted that his improved execution was in part down to his greater understanding of the different phases of the race: “Graeme’s start has always been good, but he’s never been so good at the finish. He’s always thought that the only way to run is just to try to get faster and faster through the race but we’ve focused more on the middle and end phases and how he can maintain his form better through to the finish, and at last it seems to be clicking.”
Ballard made it a golden double with victory in the T36 200m, clocking a new PB of 25.12 (-0.7m/s).
Other British winners on the day were Jonnie Peacock (Dan Pfaff) in the T42/43/44 100m (11.32/-2.0m/s); Katrina Hart (Rob Ellchuk) in the T37 100m (14.43/-0.2m/s) and 200m (30.14/-2.1m/s); Richard Chiassario (Ken Day) in the T53/54 100m (15.04/-0.7m/s); Dan West (Jim Edwards) in the F32/33/34 shot putt (11.26m/1003 points); and Hannah Cockroft (Peter Eriksson) in the T34 100m (19.46/-2.4m/s).
Peacock’s time was a lifetime best performance into a strong headwind and he credited in particular the changes he’s embraced in his last seven months as a full time athlete: “I’m delighted and I couldn’t have wished for anything better,” said the Lee Valley based athlete.
“I can mainly put it down to all the changes I’ve made since the end of last year, such as working with my coach Dan Pfaff and moving to London to be nearer my training base. Athletes such as Steve Lewis have been great mentors to me down there and a great help. Training alongside guys like Dwain Chambers and Christian Malcolm really opens your eyes and working as hard as them and operating as a professional athlete, you start to believe you belong there.”
Hart recorded the only other gold medal double of the day, matching Ballard with wins in both the 100m and 200m: “The fans were really good out there and they helped a lot, but it was windy,” said the Bath-based athlete who defended her 2011 100m title but went one better in the 200m on this occasion; “there were kids shouting for me which was really nice - this event gets better and better and better each year and it’s brilliant to have all the school kids here because they’re the future.”
UKA Head Coach Peter Eriksson was delighted with the team’s performance overall: “It’s been an amazing day with a lot of surprises and a World Record in the first event of the day which was the best possible start,” he said.
“Our youngsters really delivered like Sophie Kamlish and Will Smith who were phenomenal on their debuts, Jonnie Peacock with his PB into a big headwind and it was great to see Nathan Stephens back after his shoulder operation last year. The list goes on and on.”
Full results are available now on the BT Paralympic World Cup website.