Sport

2016 Rio Paralympics: Angie Ballard chasing gold after booking spot with qualifying time

Canberra wheelchair racing competitor Angie Ballard secured a qualifying time for the 2016 Paralympics.
Canberra wheelchair racing competitor Angie Ballard secured a qualifying time for the 2016 Paralympics. Photo: Jeff Chan

Paralympic medallist Angie Ballard is undoubtedly closer to the end of her career than the beginning, but she believes her hard-earned experience holds her in better stead now than in her youth.

The Canberra competitor punched her ticket to this year's Games in Rio de Janeiro at the Summer Down Under Wheelchair Track and Road Racing Series event at the AIS on Wednesday night.

Ballard stopped the clock in a time of 54.95 seconds in the T53 400m to secure an automatic nomination for selection.

"I've gone through some really hard years where I wish I had the confidence or the knowledge to have figured out how to make it all come together," Ballard said.

"I kinda needed to go through those hard times to figure out what I needed to do to get to [where I am] now."

The five-time medallist has never claimed a Paralympic gold, but believes that she is better equipped to aim for it now than ever before.

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"My first Paralympics I can't even remember, most of it I was so scared and confused and there was so much going on; whereas, I must say now I'm going there [Rio] as an athlete to do a job and I'm much more focused on what it is I'm there to do."

Ballard's qualification for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio is in large part thanks to her victory at last year's world championships in Doha, where she took first place in the 200 and 400 metres events.

Although Ballard gained confidence from those results, she remains wary of the rivals who will be challenging her in Rio.

"There's a couple of American girls, who are always really strong. There's definitely the Chinese who, up until worlds [the world championship] last year I hadn't beat, so they'll still be a threat."

The 33-year-old has also added a new string to her bow – the 1600 metres. The change is not entirely foreign to Ballard, who was known as a sprinter in her youth, before transferring recently to become a middle-distance specialist.

"The main challenge for me in the 1600 is that there's more tactics involved, it's not like sprinting where you stay in your own lane and go really fast," Ballard said. "And we found that the training [for the 1600] is really complimenting my 400 as well."

The Summer Down Under event concluded on Thursday night.