HER third Paralympic Games and her first medal…. Louise Ellery is a happy woman.
And it’s only fitting for a woman who’s motto is ``Never Give Up’’.
Ellery’s silver in the combined F32-33-34 shot put for cerebral palsy athletes was joined by a silver on the track to Angie Ballard (NSW) in the 200m (T53) just a few minutes later in Thursday night’s finals. She added that to the 100m bronze on Sunday night with the 400m still to come.
It was a special medal for Ellery after a 6th in Athens, then exactly the same placing four years later in Beijng in 2008.
But true to her motto she kept going and took gold in the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games and then bronze at the 2011 IPC world athletics championships.
That proved Ellery (ACT) was in the ballpark for a medal in London in 2012 and she delivered – silver in the shot put on Thursday night.
``I’m really, really happy with that,’’ the 35-year-old said, whose two-hour competition meant she had to sit through a lot of cheering for British athletes on the track while she was trying to throw – plus a `God Save the Queen’ medal ceremony.
``The noise didn’t annoy me that much but sometimes I had to put my fingers in my ears.’’
Australian team throws coach John Eden said Ellery kept her composure as reigning Paralympic champion Birgit Kober (Germany) blew everyone away with a big throw early.
``It was a good competition tonight in the sense there was (F) 32, 33, and 34 classes together so a lot of athletes. The German girl threw over 10 metres so it’s really hard to compete against that,’’ Eden said.
``But what Louise did tonight, that although she didn’t throw as well as she can, she actually competed. She warmed up well and showed a mature attitude and she got the results.’’
Victoria’s Brydee Moore finished 6th.
Ellery had barely packed away her gear when Ballard came roaring around the bend to split Chinese pair Huang Lisha and Zhou Hongzhuan, who had taken gold-silver ahead of her in the 100m.
``I really wanted to get a good bend and then open up in the straight and hit my maximum. My bend wasn’t quite as good as I liked – I usually get a bit more off my acceleration, but it was still good to hold out by 0.05 seconds,’’ she said.
Ballard’s 29.35s was a PB as was her friend and team-mate Madison de Rozario in 30-33sec in 6th.
``I’m stoked for both of them with those good times – bring on the 400,’’ said coach Louise Sauvage, who is at her second Paralympics in her team management role after retiring at the Athens Games.
Earlier in the night Rosemary Little (NSW) was aiming to grab a medal for the sprint double in her class and came pretty close.
After taking bronze in the 100m final (T34) on the opening day of the Paralympic track program six days ago, Little was in third position early in the home straight in the 200m final tonight.
With 20 metres to go, 15-year-old Dutch teenager Desiree Vranken caught the Australian and then held her off until the finish line to take bronze.
Little missed the medal podium by one spot but knew she had given it all she had.
``Pretty much. I knew my arms were having a few spasms before tonight’s race,’’ she said of her 4th placing. ``So there wasn’t much strength going through (her push) especially my right arm.’’
Her track program is now over and a bronze in her debut Games is a strong result, despite Little having a shortened preparation.
``That’s right, as I only started seriously training in December so I’m pleased with that. I started back racing in January,’’ she said, adding she had the 2013 IPC World Athletics Championships next August in France firmly in her sights.
``And with six to eight months intense training I’m hoping I’ll do well.’’
She’s certainly stood out in London with her bright purple-pink racing chair – maybe the prettiest colour combination at the track.
``I think so,’’ Little said smiling. ``You’ve got to have a bit of class.’’
Another already getting excited for the worlds was in the very next final – 17-year-old Torita Isaac in the 200m (T38).
She finished 7th behind Chinese gold medallist Chen Junfei, who set a new world record for the cerebral palsy class, but was glad she beat Britain’s Olivia Breen.
Isaac (Qld) worked hard off the bend so she could try to hose down the challengers.
``That was my plan. I just couldn’t keep my speed up in the straight,’’ she said. ``I so like racing out there. I can’t wait to get stronger in training because I intend to beat a few of those that got passed me tonight next time we meet.’’
That would be the Lyon world titles.
``I’ll be ready. And I’m already thinking of what I’ll be able to do in four years time (Rio).’’
By Margie McDonald