TALENTED archer Chloe Ball is one step closer to her dream of Rio 2016 after selection into the Team GB Para-Archery squad, writes Laura Fell.
The hardy 17-year-old will compete in the new W1 category with a compound bow this year, and she will train at the national centre Lilleshall twice a week, with the aim of representingTeam GB in Brazil.
Dreams of Paralympic glory have been on the Wotton-on-Edge archer’s mind since she first picked up a bow in 2011.
Former wheelchair racer Ball, who suffers from muscular dystrophy, was devastated when doctors told her she would have to stop racing and “slow down” due to health problems.
Fittingly, it was at the National Junior Games in Stoke Mandeville, home of the Paralympic Games, that Ball first tried archery and quickly took to it.
The Cleeve Archers member explained: “I was stubborn at first, but I knew I had to find another sport and slow down.
“I had dislocated my thumb wheelchair racing and it wouldn’t heal. I have had surgery on it since and fused it into the bow position.
“But when I tried archery I loved it straightaway.
“It was very different, and I soon got addicted to it and was given my own bow. I attended training camps and learnt a lot and that helped me so much.
“Time has gone so quickly but I am so happy I started shooting.
“When they first told me it didn’t quite sink in. I’m not sure it ever will! I was working so hard for it.
“I am so happy to be in the brand new category and part of it from the very beginning. I have had Rio in mind since it happened.
“I am young for an archer, so hopefully with some effort and getting some good scores, I will make it happen.”
The former Lady Katharine Berkley School pupil has had to take two six-month periods out of training due to a bout of glandular fever and the thumb dislocation, but has enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top in three short years.
Already classmates at South Gloucestershire and Stroud College are saving up to offer their support at various competitions, starting with the European Archery Competition in Telford from January 24 to 26.
In March, Ball will travel to Bangkok to take part in the Asian Para Grand Prix.
Despite achievements at several competitions, selection into the podium potential squad is by far her greatest moment so far.
Ball said: “This is a really big step up.
“Because this is a new category they couldn’t base selection on scores or results.
“It was all about what they saw of you on training camps, and what you were like as a person – your behaviour, your adaptability, how you fit into the team.
“I just wanted to be myself and do my best.
“And it is thanks to my parents that I’m where I am now.
“They go all over the country with me and make it all possible.”