Athlete chases her dream of Paralympic gold

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An athletics champion defending her world records at next month’s Rio Paralympics is aiming to go even further by winning Paralympic gold.

A four-time Paralympian with two current world records, track athlete Angie Ballard has her sights set on crossing the finishing line first at the Rio Games from 7–18 September.

Thirty-four year old Angie, who lives in Camperdown and competes in wheelchair racing, has won a string of Paralympic medals and athletics titles since becoming a paraplegic at the age of seven after a car accident.

“I love that I get the opportunity to absolutely pursue excellence in my sport,” Angie said.

“I love the physical side of what I do – discovering and then pushing my limits, but also the mental side of things from innovating, discipline and getting that little bit extra out of what I’m doing.

“I acknowledge that there are things I do that are physically different from the general population but on the whole I believe my circumstances have made me a resilient and innovative individual.”

Angie raced into the history books last year after breaking the world records for the 400m and 800m T53 track events. She won two golds and a bronze medal at the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha and recently broke her own world record in the 400m event on the same day exactly one year later.

With the Paralympics just a few weeks away, Angie hopes her recent success rolls over the coming months and she is doing everything she can to try and maintain the balance needed to be physically at her peak.

Angie trains five days a week – six sessions in her race chair, and two sessions in the gym working on her fitness, strength and technical aspects – to ensure she is in peak condition to achieve her dream of Paralympic gold.

“I get to work with a great team of people to work and that makes it invigorating to do what I do,” Angie said.

“Having represented my country a few times, it’s the recognition of what I’ve achieved and the privilege of being able to represent Australia on the world stage that drives me.

“To represent Australia at the Paralympics is both a great opportunity to show what it is we can do, but also a privilege not be taken lightly.”

Angie first began competing in wheelchair racing in 1994 at the age of twelve, with a racing chair that was bought second hand.

By 1997, she was taking the sport more seriously and began setting records in junior Australian athletics for her classification.

In 2000, she competed in her first Paralympics and held national records in the T53 100m and 200m events. At the London 2012 Paralympic Games, she came away with two silvers and a bronze.

Increasing awareness of the contribution and needs of people living with disability is an important part of the City of Sydney’s role in promoting social inclusion and diversity.

The City will partner with the Australian Paralympic Committee to raise the profile of the athletes and their achievements during the Games.

“The support and interest of the City of Sydney means a huge deal as we get closer to the Games,” said Angie.

“Sometimes an athlete gets quite isolated in the day-to-day of training, but the City of Sydney has made the effort not only to support the team to get to Rio but to remind us that they are behind us and wishing us every success.”

For more information, visit: paralympic.org.au

For media inquiries or images, contact City of Sydney Senior Publicist Elaine Kelly on 02 9265 9201 or email ekelly@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

For enquiries about the Inclusion (Disability) Sports and Recreation Directory, contact Lisa Moir on 02 9265 7823 or email lmoir@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

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