Ballard makes way for new age with fond farewell in Berlin

Young celebrates in style in Berlin. Pic: Ben Booth Photography

Thomas Young will forever cherish one memory from his World Para Athletics European gold-medal performance – his mum waving to him from the stands.

The Lancaster sprinter certainly did her proud too, becoming T38 200m European champion in Berlin and throwing in a personal best of time of 23.70 seconds for good measure.

Young has certainly had to wait for his moment in the spotlight, not taking to the Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark track until the sixth day of competition.

But he made up for lost time and then some, even allowing himself to relax and celebrate in the final ten metres of the race before seeking out those who mean the most in his life.

“I’m over the moon, it is a fantastic achievement. I am speechless really,” said Young, who has cerebral palsy.

“There are no words, I am just so happy. I just kept at it and I have achieved what I wanted to achieve. Tokyo 2020 and the Paralympic Games in two years is the main one, there is a World Championships next year, but Tokyo 2020 would be amazing to go to.

“I like both the 100m and 200m but the 200m has always been that bit better. At 30m to go I was going as fast as I ever have and I am just over the moon.

“My family are here and I saw my mum waving to me and I couldn’t wait to go and see them.”

Young’s time in Berlin is not done yet with the 100m to come on Sunday.
But it is the end of the line for Chorley favourite Graeme Ballard, hanging up his spikes at the age of 39 after a stellar career which has yielded medals at Paralympic, world and European level.

In true style he finished with another place on the podium, bronze coming his way in the T36 200m to go alongside his 100m title from earlier in the week.

“That was about the best I could have done on the day,” he said.

“To come away with two medals in your last ever Championships is pretty darn good. I had mixed emotions but I still had a job to do, but at the end of the day I came up against people better and you have to say hats off to them.

“Sometimes I know I have been a pain in the rear end but it has all been worth it.

“It is time to pass on what I have gained and hopefully we can get more kids coming through to compete for GB. It has been a long and successful career but the world record I set in Manchester [in 2012] has got to be up there as one of the best moments.”

British Athletics works alongside UK Sport and the National Lottery to support the delivery of success at the world’s most significant sporting events, principally the Olympic and Paralympic Games. They do this via the funded initiative, the World Class Programme, one part of the British Athletics pathway.