THE proud parents of a Lancashire hopeful are urging the county to get behind their son as the Paralympic Games get underway today.
Following this year’s London 2012 Olympics, Barbara and Dennis Ballard will be heading to London to see their son, Graeme, compete for gold in the 100 metres.
Graeme, 33, who is the world record holder in the T36 category 100-metre sprint, has cerebral palsy and epilepsy.
He is going for glory at the London Games in both the 100m and 200m, having won 200-metre bronze in Athens in 2004. He did not medal at Beijing in 2008.
Barbara said: “We can’t wait to go to London and see Graeme because he has done so well.
“The Games will be so exciting, so we are hoping that everyone will get behind the ones from Lancashire. They have all achieved so much.”
When he was born, doctors told Barbara and Dennis that Graeme, who was born thirteen-and-a-half weeks premature, would not live beyond his teenage years.
Their only son spent the majority of his childhood in and out of hospital.
Dennis said they can’t believe that their son, who took up Athletics aged 19, is competing in the Games.
He said: “With Graeme’s unusual condition we were astounded that he could run. He can’t judge where he steps and doesn’t usually know how near, or far, he is to furniture, and has been known to ping-pong around the house.”
A member of Chorley Athletics Club, Graeme will be cheered on by family and friends who are heading to London ahead of his big race on Sunday.
Barbara added: “I will never forget when we first went to see him compete. It was frightening. His legs cross, so he could easily fall over.
“We are so proud of him and we just can’t believe it. People are knocking on the door and asking when he will be running.
“Everybody seems to be interested. Caring for him has been really hard, but all worth it. It just goes to show you can compete and do anything.”