(Orillia, ON) – Only one year ago, amputee runner Rick Ball was disappointed one door to his first international competition as a long distance runner had closed. As 2011 comes to a close, the 46 year-old is upbeat and more focussed than ever to achieve sprinting success at the 2012 London Paralympic Games.
Ball completed a rare transition to 400-metres and 200-metre races in less than seven months, culminating with a Canadian Track and Field Championship, a berth in the 2011 Para Pan-American Games in Mexico and received renewed ‘elite’ status as a carded athlete through 2012 by Athletics Canada.
Along the way, Ball was named 2011 Ontario Parasport Male Athlete of the Year and lit an event-opening cauldron in Sarnia, received a grant from CANFund — a not-for-profit organization devoted solely to raising funds and awareness for Canadian athletes — and raised money, hope and awareness for young people and fledgling Paralympic programs in Antigua and Barbuda.
“When I look back to this time last year, there was a very brief point when I was wondering ‘what might have been’, Ball admits. “But when I received so much inspiration and support from everyone around me – my family, my coaches, fellow athletes, the community — it has been totally worth the amount of work I have invested so far. And you can be sure I’m committed to work even harder to achieve my dream to represent Canada in London.”
Ball finished fifth in the (T-44) 400-metre race at the Para PanAms and rebounded four days later with a personal best in the 200-metre final.
In the weeks ahead, Ball will continue winter training working on starts and other race techniques and taking part in some competitions at the Ontario Masters meets at York University to prepare for the 2012 campaign.