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Ponthir cycling star James Ball helps propel ParalympicsGB to magical Izu morning at Tokyo 2020

James Ball won tandem kilo silver and played his part in an unforgettable, medal-laden morning for ParalympicsGB in the velodrome.

The Ponthir rider set a new Paralympic record alongside sighted pilot Lewis Stewart, going into gold medal position in the time trial event with a superb time of 59.503.

Then their team-mates and training partners Neil Fachie and Matt Rotherham obliterated their own world record to win gold with a ride of 58.038, making it a memorable one-two for Britain.

“It means everything,” said Ball, who is able to train full-time and benefit from world class facilities, technology, coaching and support teams thanks to National Lottery funding.

“No-one really remembers the time, they just remember the result, but it’s an important day for me. I’m very, very happy with my silver medal.


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“We trained hard these past 18 months, and it’s great to get a result like we did today.”

The result represented vindication for Ball, who finished fifth in the kilo on his Paralympic debut at Rio 2016.

He won the world title with Rotherham in 2017 and then again with Pete Mitchell in 2019.

It needed Stewart to step in for the 2020 season and the pair hit it off immediately, winning two world medals at the World Championships and now reaching the Paralympic rostrum.

“Two years ago, we weren’t even together,” said Stewart.

“I got what was a last-minute call up for what was meant to be the Paralympics in 2020, and we only had six months together, but obviously that got delayed, which was good for us.

“It gave us a bit more time to work and really chip away, and like James said, we just trained as hard as we could to close that gap.”


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Ball believes training and working closely with Fachie and Rotherham has helped both pairings get the medals they craved in Tokyo.

“They beat us in training, we beat them in training, so it’s nice to just bounce off them,” he said.

“I don’t think anybody could have called it today, so we’re proud of them, and they’re proud of us.”

Ball’s was one of five medals on a magical morning to be British in Izu, with Lora Fachie also breaking the world record and winning gold in the women’s B 3000m individual pursuit.

The event’s podium was also dominated by ParalympicsGB with Sophie Unwin winning bronze.

And the velodrome programme was rounded off when Kadeena Cox, Jaco van Gass and Jody Cundy broke the world record in the mixed C1-5 750 team sprint.

No one does more to support our Olympic and Paralympic athletes than National Lottery players, who raise around £36 million each week for good causes including grassroots and elite sport. Discover the positive impact playing the National Lottery has at www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and get involved by using the hashtags: #TNLAthletes #MakeAmazingHappen

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