CHLOE BALL’S Paralympic hopes have been reignited.
The 17-year-old, from Kingswood near Wotton-under-Edge, who suffers from muscular dystrophy, is on course to reach Rio 2016 after being named in the Team GB Para-Archery squad.
Touted as a potential Paralympic medal winner in wheelchair racing or wheelchair tennis in her earlier teens, Ball was devastated when she was told to stop due to health problems.
Refusing to give up on her dream, Ball decided to concentrate on archery and now trains at the national centre in Lilleshall twice a week as well as with her club Cleve Archers in Chipping Sodbury.
Ball has also had to overcome injury and illness but insists that the setbacks have simply fuelled her desire to succeed.
She said: “I loved wheelchair racing. To be told you’re really good and then be told you can’t do it made me more determined to find a sport I could still enjoy and still be good at.”
Ball discovered archery at the National Junior Games in Stoke Mandeville – home of the Paralympic Games – three years ago but was twice ruled out for six months when she went into intensive care with glandular fever in 2012 and last year had to have surgery on a thumb she dislocated during her wheelchair racing days.
The former Katharine Lady Berkeley’s School pupil attended a series of Great Britain training camps towards the end of last year before being selected in the brand-new women’s compound W1 category for athletes with a disability affecting their upper and lower limbs, and is now working towards nailing down a spot at Rio in two years.
She said: “It is what I’ve got in my mind. Other people are hoping I should get the scores I need this year and next year. I’ll do what I can to make sure I’m there.
“In the Paralympic classification I am in it has just opened up to women so I feel privileged to be part of it.
“At the moment it’s such a new category, so I’m just settling in and getting used to competing at that level then I will start thinking about the European Championships and World Championships next year, and then Rio is possible.
“My scores need to improve and that will only come with experience and time. I’m quite young for the sport so it doesn’t matter how long it takes.
“You have to be high enough to be gold medal standard because GB Archery are really strong as a team, they always do really well.”
Ball was given extra motivation to reach Rio when she went to the London 2012 Paralympics. She watched her friend Jamie Carter, who she encouraged into wheelchair racing, compete in the Olympic Stadium and also went to the closing ceremony and athletes’ parade.
She said: “It was an inspiration watching the closing ceremony to London and the start of the countdown to Rio.
“The atmosphere isn’t something you experience every day. It gave me a taste of what it would be like. It would be incredible to experience it from the inside rather than the outside.”