Smith and McGuire on top of the World

BISFed have released their updated world rankings and there are two GB athletes topping their individual classes.

BC1 World No 1 David Smith MBE

BC1 World No 1 David Smith MBE

BC4 World No 1 Stephen McGuire

BC4 World No 1 Stephen McGuire

The new system reflects the results of every match in a competition, not just the final position, and should be a more accurate way to gauge the best players in the world.

David Smith MBE retains his place as World Number 1 in BC1 after going the year unbeaten. 2016 Paralympic Champion Smith claimed individual titles at the Regional Open Sant Cugat, World Open Seville, World Open Kansas and also at the European Championships. He will go into the 2018 World Championships in Liverpool as top seed ahead of Thailand's Pattaya Tadtong, the 2012 Paralympic Gold Medallist.

Stephen McGuire climbs to the top of the rankings on the back of another impressive year. With an individual World Championship title earned in China in 2016 the Scot has added Gold medals in the Regional Open Sant Cugat, World Open Kansas and European Championships in 2017. He is one of only two Europeans in the top ten, which is dominated by athletes from the Asian region.

European Champion Jamie McCowan is the top ranked GB BC3 athlete in fourth place while Patrick Wilson is in 10th. The BC3 Pair are also 4th.

The ranking positions of all GB athletes are as follows:

BC1/BC2 Team 10th
BC3 Pair 4th
BC4 Pair 5th

BC1 David Smith MBE 1st

BC2 Claire Taggart 23rd
BC2 Will Hipwell 61st

BC3 Jamie McCowan 4th
BC3 Patrick Wilson 10th
BC3 Scott McCowan 21st
BC3 Jess Hunter 58th

BC4 Stephen McGuire 1st
BC4 Evie Edwards 28th
BC4 Louis Saunders 74th

See the full BISFed World Rankings here

Search for new Performance Director begins

Boccia UK today began the search for a successor to Matt Hammond as Performance Director.

High quality candidates are sought to continue Hammond's good work and lead the squad to the World Championships in Liverpool this year before taking them forward to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Adverts have been placed on the UK Sport website and other partner websites.

The job advert can be downloaded here and the candidate brief here.

Applications must be received by 11th January with interviews to be held on 22nd January.

Matt Hammond appointed Performance Director of Tennis Foundation

Boccia UK's Performance Director Matt Hammond has accepted a position with the Tennis Foundation and he will be leaving the organisation in the New Year.

Hammond has been in post for nine years, taking up the role immediately following the Beijing Paralympic Games. He led the squad to two Games himself, with two medals at London 2012 and a Gold in Rio for David Smith

He has overseen the growth and professionalisation of the Programme and leaves with the sport in a far stronger position than when he arrived. Five medals, including three Golds, at the recent European Championships demonstrates that his successor will have a strong squad to take to the World Championships in Liverpool in August 2018.

He will leave with the very best wishes from all Boccia UK's athletes, staff and Board.

John Dowson, Chair of Boccia UK, said “Matt will be much missed as the Performance Director of Boccia UK where his impact has been far beyond medals. He has built a vibrant environment with a strong culture within the World Class Programme. In collaboration with our home country colleagues, he and they have also been building a positive development environment with an eye to the future of the sport. I am sure that the Tennis Foundation will benefit from his experience and we wish him all the best in his new role"

Matt Hammond, departing Performance Director said, "It has been great to work with the boccia community over the last 9 years and see the performance end of the sport develop at an elite level. The current programme players are professional in their approach and understand the demands of the modern game, which is highly competitive and reflects just how far the sport has moved. They have been supported by a World Class team of practitioners and coaches and it has been a privilege for me to see the team grow."

"The results from this year show how important it has been to work with those players that really have the ability, performance behaviours and mind-set to look at the challenges ahead and what is required to succeed at international level. It will be a great Programme for someone to take on for Tokyo and beyond!"

BC3 Pair do the double over Japan in Tokyo

Jamie McCowan and Patrick Wilson headed to Tokyo to compete in the Japan Para Games.

Joined by assistants Linda McCowan and Will Wilson, Team Leader Matt Hammond, Coach Glynn Tromans and physio Fran Lace it was a great opportunity to experience the environment ahead of the Paralympics in 2020.

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As an exhibition event well attended by spectators and the media, GB were due to play the Japanese BC3 Pair twice. Having lost to them at the World Open in Kansas this was a good chance to banish those demons but they did not get off to a good start, going 0-3 down. Jamie McCowan however is starting to specialise in comebacks following his European Gold medal and he and Patrick rallied to win 4-3.

The second match was more straightforward with GB taking each end to triumph 4-0 and win the series two nil.

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Comeback Kings earn GB three individual European Golds

David Smith won BC1 Gold, Jamie McCowan with assistant Linda McCowan took the BC3 title and Stephen McGuire grabbed top spot in BC4 in an incredible last day at the 2017 BISFed European Championships in Portugal.

Smith had cruised to the final and looked set to continue his tournament winning streak stretching way back into 2016. He cruised into the final, ruthlessly dispatching his opponents en route. He then came up against Mikhail Gutnik of Russia in the final, who did not follow the script and he was 4-0 down with an end remaining. But Smith showed what champions are made of to stun Gutnik and clinch a 5-4 victory.

Jamie McCowan's comeback was even more unlikely. Having ground out a 3-2 semi final win over his brother's conqueror, Greg Polychronidis of Greece, he faced surprise package Damian Iskrzycki from Poland for Gold. Iskrzycki had beaten Patrick Wilson in the quarter finals so his quality was clear but he stunned McCowan, taking all six points on the first end. McCowan played himself back into the game with three points in the second end but a tied third end still left him three points adrift with an end to play. Renowned for his fighting spirit, McCowan didn't give up and took four points on the final end to win 8-7 for his maiden European title.

Stephen McGuire's comeback came in his quarter final against World Number 2 Samuel Andrecijk of Slovakia, three down after two and taking four on the third end to take the lead. He withheld a fightback from another Slovak, Micaela Balcova, in the semi holding out for a 5-3 win  He traded ends with Russia's Sergey Safin to sit 1-1 at the half way stage in the final but powered away to triumph 6-1 and add the European title to his World title from 2016.

GB finished the competition with five medals from seven events and topped the medal table with three golds.

GOLD Individual BC1 - David Smith MBE
GOLD Individual BC3 - Jamie McCowan (assistant Linda McCowan)
GOLD Individual BC4 - Stephen McGuire
SILVER Pairs BC3 - Jamie McCowan (assistant Linda McCowan), Scott McCowan (assistant Gary McCowan, Patrick Wilson (assistant Will Wilson)
SILVER Pairs BC4 - Stephen McGuire, Evie Edwards, Louis Saunders

A Pair of Silvers at the Europeans

Great Britain won two Silver medals in the Team and Pairs events of the 2017 BISFed European Championships, held in Povoa de Varzim, Portugal.

The BC4 Pair of Stephen McGuire, Evie Edwards and Louis Saunders were closest to a Gold medal as their final against Portugal, who they had earlier beaten at the pool stage, went down to a tie break after finishing 3-3. GB were holding a two point lead as the match went into the final end but Portugal scored two to take the game to the extra end.

They had started with a close match against Croatia which they won 3-2 before a 15-0 triumph over Greece settled the nerves. They also won their other two pool games, 5-2 over Germany and a 4-1 win over Portugal.

Topping Pool B, they faced the second placed pair in Pool A, Russia. A 5-1 win set up the rematch with Portugal who toppled the Pool A winners and World Number 1’s Slovakia.

The BC3 Pair of Patrick Wilson, Jamie McCowan and Scott McCowan also took Silver. They recovered from a 1-4 loss to France in their Pool to record three victories, 4-3 over Portugal, 6-3 over Spain and 7-0 over Denmark.

That set up a semi-final against Greece which they started well, taking two on the first end. It was a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, running out 5-2 winners. They then faced Russia in the final, who had defeated Sweden 6-0 in the other semi final.

Russia started strongly and were 6-0 up after two ends. GB had to chase the game and were punished further with the match ending 11-0, with Russia taking a first European title.

The BC1/BC2 Team of David Smith, Claire Taggart and Will Hipwell were unable to progress from their pool despite a strong start. Victories on the first day against Italy 6-4 and Israel 9-3 put them into a strong position.

They suffered defeat to Russia 7-3 but a win in their final match against Slovakia would have seen them through. GB were 3-2 up going into the final end but lost two points meaning Slovakia took the runners up slot behind Israel and went on to take the Gold medal, defeating Greece in the final.

The individual competition now begins with David Smith, Stephen McGuire and Jamie McCowan coming into the competition off the back of medals in the recent World Open in Kansas.

 

Golds for Smith and McGuire in Kansas

Great Britain won three individual medals at the BISFed World Open Kansas, with BC1 Gold for David Smith MBE, BC4 Gold for Stephen McGuire and BC3 Silver for Jamie McCowan.

BC1 Champ David Smith MBE

BC1 Champ David Smith MBE

BC4 winner Stephen McGuire

BC4 winner Stephen McGuire

Smith sailed through his pool with four straightforward victories, scoring 33 points and only conceding three. A further sixteen unanswered points followed in the quarter final against the USA’s Brigid Mason. The semi final was a closer affair against Slovakia’s Tomas Kral, a player recently reclassified having previously competed as a BC2. Smith however was always in control, and was 5-0 up after three ends before Kral took two consolation points on the final end. That set up a repeat of the Rio Paralympic Games final and Smith was dominant in an 8-0 victory over Daniel Perez of the Netherlands. The Gold medal meant that Smith has won the last five international competitions he has entered and will be red hot favourite to win European Gold in Portugal in October.

McGuire followed a similar pattern to Smith as he cruised through his pool with three wins from three matches, scoring 20 points in the process. The draw opened up as World number 2 Samuel Andrecijk didn’t make it out of his pool. McGuire did have to face surprise package Duban Cely of Colombia, part of the Gold medal winning pair that had defeated McGuire and his team mates Evie Edwards and Louis Saunders on their way to the title. McGuire triumphed 7-2 before meeting Canada’s Alison Levine in the semi. McGuire raced into a 5-0 lead after two ends. Levine mounted a comeback but could not catch the Scot as the match finished 5-3. Waiting in the final was the other half of the Colombian Pair, Euclides Grisales. Again, McGuire started strongly and was 3-0 up after two ends. A tied third end took the score to 4-1 and McGuire kept it tight in the final end to only concede one and take the title with a 4-2 victory.

The other GB BC4 in action was Louis Saunders, making his international debut. Celebrating his sixteenth birthday while in Kansas, Saunders also notched his first international win, a 4-3 victory over Nobuyuki Takada of Japan. He will also have learnt from defeats in his other pool matches by seasoned athletes Robert Durkovic of Slovakia and Iulian Ciobanu of Canada and has a bright future in the international game.

McCowan and Patrick Wilson went for GB in the BC3 event. McCowan topped his pool, with two resounding victories and a narrower 4-2 win over Daniel Michel of Australia who was bidding to add to his Pairs Gold from earlier in the week. Wilson went through second in his pool having suffered defeat in his first match but beating Jesus Romero of Colombia after a double tie break in the last pool game. His quarter final against World number 2 Grigoris Polychronidis also went to a tie break after the game finished 4-4 but for the second time Wilson succumbed in the tie break. McCowan beat Eric Bussiere of Canada 6-1 in his quarter final and Wilson’s conqueror Polychronidis lay in wait in the semi. The Greek was grinding out his route to the final with a point in each of the first three ends but McCowan forced the tie break with an amazing comeback, taking three points on the final end. The momentum was with McCowan and he duly took the tiebreak and a place in the final where he would battle Michel for Gold. He was unable to repeat his pool stage victory however as Michel did the double.

Earlier in the week the BC3 Pair had missed out on a medal, losing to Canada in the semi final and Japan in the third place playoff. The BC4 Pair did not make it out of their pool after narrow 3-2 losses against both Canada and eventual winners Colombia. The individual medal haul however means that GB travel to Portugal in October with high hopes of medal success.

World Champs logo unveiled at UK Champs

The logo for the 2018 BISFed World Boccia Championships was revealed on Sunday 13th August at the medal ceremony for the 2017 United Kingdom Boccia Championships.

The UK Champs was held at Exhibition Centre Liverpool, the same venue that will be used for the World Champs the following year. Paralympic champion David Smith MBE retained his BC1 title while World Champion Stephen McGuire repeated his BC4 triumph of 2016. In the BC2 competition Tim Hayes claimed the title in his first appearance at a UK Champs. In the most dramatic final, Scott McCowan beat his brother Jamie after a tie-break to take the BC3 crown.

The World Championships will take place between the 12th and 18th of August 2018. Liverpool will play host to 192 athletes at the most prestigious boccia competition outside the Paralympic Games. Assistant Mayor of Liverpool Councillor Wendy Simon told the athletes at the medal ceremony how thrilled Liverpool was to be the home of the World Championships and that all participants would receive a very warm welcome to a sports mad city.

John Dowson, Stephen McGuire, David Smith and Councillor Wendy Simon

John Dowson, Stephen McGuire, David Smith and Councillor Wendy Simon

Tickets will go on sale later in the year and the local organising committee aim to stage a competition that will showcase a sport of intriguing tactics, incredible skill and nail biting tension to a new audience. The event is supported by UK Sport, Liverpool City Council and ACC Liverpool Group.

The logo was inspired by the rich cultural history of Liverpool and combines details of Boccia court markings into a striking montage.

Medals in Seville in lead up to UK Champs

Great Britain won a Gold, a Silver and a Bronze at the BISFed World Open Seville as preparations were underway in Liverpool for the UK Championships.

David Smith won BC1 Gold in a high quality field, beating Daniel Perez of the Netherlands 5-1 in the semi final before claiming the title with a 9-1 triumph over Joao Pinto of Portugal. It was the fourth international event in a row that Smith has won and cemented his status as World Number 1.

The BC3 Pair agonisingly missed out on Gold in a tie break with Portugal. After the final finished 5-5 Portugal edged the extra end to take the match. Stephen McGuire missed out on a place in the final losing to Kwan Hang Wong of Hong Kong but made amends in the third place game, beating Yuk Wing Leung, also of Hong Kong, 3-2.

See the full results from Seville here

Meanwhile back in Blighty, preparations were underway for the 2017 United Kingdom Boccia Championships on the 12th and 13th August. The competition is being held at Exhibition Centre Liverpool as a test for next years World Championships. David Smith and Stephen McGuire will be looking to defend their titles while the BC2 and BC3 crowns are up for grabs as Nigel Murray and Jacob Thomas have both retired.

Follow developments on the Boccia UK Facebook and Twitter.

Live scores and results are here

Boccia UK wins bid to host the BISFed 2018 World Championships in Liverpool

The Boccia International Sports Federation (BISFed) has awarded the rights to host the 2018 World Championships to Boccia UK. The competition, which is the biggest and most prestigious on the international calendar outside the Paralympic Games, will be hosted at Exhibition Centre Liverpool from the 9th to 19th August 2018.

Exhibition Centre Liverpool, venue for the BISFed 2018 World Championships

Exhibition Centre Liverpool, venue for the BISFed 2018 World Championships

Boccia is a Paralympic sport with no Olympic equivalent. It is a target ball sport designed for athletes with impairments affecting all four limbs. Having watched the sport in London 2012, sportswriter Simon Barnes wrote “It’s the heart and soul of the Paralympic Games. Or of all sport. You haven’t seen sport until you’ve seen boccia.”

Following sold out crowds in London 2012 and Rio 2016 the sport continues to grow apace internationally and 192 athletes will travel to Liverpool in 2018 in their quest to become World Champion. A truly international sport, the medals at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games were shared between Europe, Asia and the Americas while more countries in Oceania and Africa are taking part in BISFed sanctioned competitions every year.

The organising committee aims to deliver the best World Championships the sport has seen. Hosted in Exhibition Centre Liverpool, an 8,100m2 venue on the banks of Liverpool’s world heritage waterfront with accommodation on site, the athlete experience will be second to none. Situated in Liverpool city centre, the event aims to attract thousands of spectators to create a memorable atmosphere and introduce people to a fascinating technical and tactical sport they might not have come across before.

John Dowson, Chair of Boccia UK, said:

“We are thrilled to be hosting the BISFed World Championships in Liverpool next year. This is the largest Boccia event on the international calendar in terms of athlete numbers and gives an excellent opportunity for innovation in showcasing the sport at a stunning location. We are extremely grateful to UK Sport and the National Lottery for their financial contribution through their Major Events Programme and to the City of Liverpool who will provide an unrivalled experience for both athletes and spectators”

David Hadfield, President of BISFed, said:

“I am very pleased that the BISFed 2018 World Championships will be hosted by Boccia UK in the wonderful city of Liverpool. Boccia is the fastest-growing Paralympic sport and we expect the competition to attract more countries and more athletes than ever to an international boccia event. I am looking forward to seeing an extraordinary demonstration of para sport in a very exciting and innovative setting.”

David Smith MBE, two-time Paralympic Gold medallist and Boccia UK athlete, said:

"I am so excited that the BISFed 2018 World Championships will be held in the UK. Performing in front of a home crowd in London 2012 was one of the finest moments of my career. I know the people of Liverpool are sports mad and I really hope they will take Boccia to their hearts to give my team mates and I a huge boost on the road to Tokyo. I hope that by creating the most interactive and entertaining Boccia competition ever we will put Boccia firmly in the public consciousness and inspire the local and national disability community to get involved in the sport.”

Joe Anderson OBE, Mayor of Liverpool, said:

“This is fantastic news and a demonstration of Liverpool’s ability to secure and deliver major sporting events. Whether it’s athletics, netball, triathlons, gymnastics, boxing, running and now Boccia, Liverpool has proved itself time and again as the perfect host to showcase a wide range of sports. We take it extremely seriously and have world class venues matched with passionate fans, providing a unique welcome. Sport is in our DNA and we will work hard to bring an enthusiastic audience that will be fair, welcoming and supportive of all athletes and participating nations and showcase Boccia to the world.”

Tim Hollingsworth OBE, CEO of the British Paralympic Association, said:

“It is terrific news that Boccia UK will host the BISFed World Championships next year giving British crowds the opportunity to watch Boccia here in the UK. We have a proud tradition of success in Boccia at Paralympic level - this is built on outstanding performances at major championships, such as the Worlds, and I am sure that British athletes will be keen to perform once again in front of home support. The World Championships will also be a major part of the GB team’s preparations for Tokyo 2020 so it will be a good testing ground ahead of the Games.

“I congratulate the team at Boccia UK on all their hard work to win the right to host the Championships. I know they will put on a fantastic event and I look forward to attending next year.”

"Stevie" Wonder! McGuire and Edwards win Gold in Sant Cugat

Boccia UK won two medals in the team and pairs events at the 2017 BISFed European Regional Open in Sant Cugat, Spain.

The BC4 Pair of Stephen McGuire and Evie Edwards took Gold after winning every match they played and beating Russia 11-4 in the final. The pool stage saw triumphs of 10-1 and 7-1 against Slovenia and Freece respectively. Hungary were the semi final opponents but were comfortably beaten 6-1. Bothe players will look to take their form into the individual event which starts on the 13th April.

The BC4 winning Pair of "Stevie" celebrate victory with Coach Morrison

The BC4 winning Pair of "Stevie" celebrate victory with Coach Morrison

The BC1/BC2 Team of David Smith, Claire Taggart and Will Hipwell also won all their games until they came up against an improving young Russian team who beat them 5-3 in the final. To come away with a Silver medal is a great result for a new look team.

The BC3 Pair of Patrick Wilson, Scott McCowan and Jamie McCowan made the semi finals after losing to Spain and beating France but missed out on the Bronze losing to Russia in the Semi's and Spain again in the 3rd/4th playoff.

Results from the Team and Pairs can be found here

GB Boccia appoint Fran Lace as Physio

Following a recruitment process, GB Boccia have recruited Fran Lace as Physio. Fran will join a world leading sports science and medicine team providing support to the World Class Programme athletes.

Dawn Ibrahim (L) and Fran Lace (R) at the Paralymic Games in Rio

Dawn Ibrahim (L) and Fran Lace (R) at the Paralymic Games in Rio

Fran qualified from Leeds Met uni in 2008 with a MSc (pre reg) Physiotherapy and went to work as a physiotherapist at Portland college in Mansfield, working with young people with long term disabilities. She started her current role at Sheffield Children’s Foundation Trust in 2010 working with children who have neurological or developmental conditions and need long term physio input in the community. She has completed training in hydrotherapy, massage and soft tissue therapy and postural management. In 2014 she got involved with Boccia, initially as a medical classifier and then working as a contractor with the EIS and the GB Boccia squad. Since then she has travelled to Columbia, Montreal and the Paralympics in Rio with the squad.

Prior to being a physio Fran obtained a degree in sport technology (BSc) from Sheffield Hallam University and worked for a short time as a research assistant in sport engineering.

Performance Director Matt Hammond said "With our Lead Physio Dawn Ibrahim reducing her hours, Fran was the ideal candidate to appoint as physio. She is heavily involved in the Boccia community and has already become a valuable team member in both the domestic training environment and at international competitions. Both the athletes and staff look forward to working more closely with Fran over the Tokyo cycle".

IPC President meets Tokyo Governor for boccia match

International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Cravenmet with Tokyo’s Governor Koike on Thursday (23 February) and the two went head-to-head in a boccia match in front of the country’s media.

Governor Koike, who set-up a number of boccia teams within Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) after being impressed by the sport at the Rio 2016 Paralympics, challenged Sir Philip to a match during his last visit to Japan in October 2016 and the IPC President duly accepted.

Joining Sir Philip’s IPC team for the match was Rio 2016 mixed team BC1-2 boccia team silver medallist Hidetaka Sugimura, IPC Governing Board member Yasushi Yamawaki and IPC Chief Executive Offer Xavier Gonzalez.

Despite the team possessing a huge knowledge of the Paralympic Movement, they suffered an 8-0 drubbing at the hands of the TMG team which featured Governor Koike, Sugimura’s Rio 2016 silver medal winning teammate Takayuki Hirose, and TMG’s Tomohito Matsuzaka and Shinpei Usui.

After the match Sir Philip Craven said: “Despite the heavy loss at the hands of the well trained Governor’s team, the match was great fun and that’s what’s important. I would like to congratulate Governor Koike and TMG for their efforts in raising awareness of boccia, a Paralympic sport that is growing in popularity in Japan.

“Prior to the match Governor Koike mentioned that awareness of boccia since Rio 2016 has increased from two per cent to over 40 per cent and many TMG employees now play the sport each month. This is fantastic news as it is important that athletes with high support needs receive the credit they deserve for playing such a highly skilful sport such as boccia.

“Today’s match highlights the extent all delivery partners involved in Tokyo 2020 are going to in order to put on the best Paralympic Games ever.

“Everyone we have met this week has shown immense enthusiasm and commitment for the Paralympic Games and I leave Tokyo convinced that this city can stage something extremely special in three and a half years’ time.”

The boccia match with Governor Koike topped off a busy week for the IPC President which kicked off on Monday when he met Akio Toyoda, President of the Toyota Motor Corporation, and other senior Toyota Executives in Toyoda City.

A day later on Tuesday he helped launch I’m Possible, a new education initiative by the IPC’s development arm the Agitos Foundation which has been translated into Japanese thanks to the support of the Nippon Foundation Paralympic Support Centre and the Japanese Paralympic Committee.

A meeting with Japanese Prime Minster Abe was the highlight of Wednesday, a day where he also gave a media briefing and met the new President of broadcaster NHK Ryoichi Ueda.

As well as meeting Governor Koike on Thursday, Sir Philip met Hirokazu Matsuno, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister in charge of Education Rebuilding. In the afternoon he gave a talk to hundreds of Tokyo 2020 and TMG about his aspirations for the Paralympic Games in 2020.

Nigel Murray MBE and Jacob Thomas retire from Boccia

Nigel Murray MBE and Jacob Thomas have both retired from international boccia after glittering careers.

Nigel’s introduction to boccia came when he attended a disability sports taster day through his former work supporting adults with physical impairments at a social services day centre.

Nigel in action at the 2012 Paralympic Games

Nigel in action at the 2012 Paralympic Games

Early sporting success came in 1999 when he won national and British individual titles. He made his Paralympic debut one year later in Sydney where he won gold in the individual BC2 event.

He narrowly missed out on a podium place at Athens 2004, but at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games Nigel won silver in the individual BC2 event and gold in the BC1/BC2 team event, where he played alongside Dan Bentley, David Smith and Zoe Robinson.

At London 2012, the BC1/BC2 team faced tough competition to defend their Paralympic title but succeeded in winning bronze. Nigel also placed 7th in the individual BC2.

To date, Nigel has been named British Champion 10 times and crowned National Champion on 13 occasions.

In the 2013 New Year's Honours, Nigel was awarded a MBE for services to boccia. This recognised not only his performances but his role as an ambassador for the sport both across the UK and in his local community. He has been supported throughout his journey by his partner Sylvia Taylor who has been a rock for him every step of the way.

Performance Director Matt Hammond said "Nigel's record speaks for itself and he will be a great loss to the Programme. As well as his individual achievements he has been a tremendous team player and has been instrumental in bringing through new talent, taking them under his wing and watching them flourish. We wish him all the best in his future endeavours."

Jacob, the current British BC3 Champion, has announced his retirement from International Boccia after first coming to prominence back in 2009 when he switched classifications from BC4 to BC3.

Jacob and Dad Mike at the 2014 World Championships

Jacob and Dad Mike at the 2014 World Championships

Jacob began 2016 as the BISFed World Number One, and finished it by brilliantly regaining the British title that he first won back in 2010.

The positive impact that he, in partnership with his father and Performance Assistant Mike, has had on the BC3 classification and the wider sport in the UK is immeasurable.

His career has been fantastic and was full of drive, ambition and high attainment. Jacob has made seven consecutive British Championship BC3 finals (with four wins) from 2010 to 2016; he has had wins on the international stage and medals at European, World and World Open levels. He became a Paralympian at the London Games in 2012 but the highlight may have been the 2014 World Championships in Beijing where he achieved a silver medal as part of the British Pair and a bronze medal in the Individual event. Winning the European Cup in Barcelona in 2015 was also a career high.

BC3 Coach Glynn Tromans, who has worked closely with Jacob since 2009 said “Jacob will be proud of his achievements, the friendships he made around the world and for the positive impact he has had on his team mates. Jacob will be remembered for all the influential things he did as part of the GB squad, for years of hard work, dedication, progress and success. We all wish him and Mike a very happy retirement.”

 

GB Boccia return home from Rio Paralympics with Gold medallist Smith centre stage

The GB Boccia squad returned home from Rio today on the Gold tipped BA flight into Heathrow.

Before they left Brazil the Gold medallists posed for a photo with BC1 Individual Gold medallist David Smith in the middle of the group, unmistakable with his blue mohawk.

Where's Smithy?

Where's Smithy?

The athletes and staff will have a deserved rest before embarking on the long road to Tokyo in 2020 with the intention of adding to the medal tally.

Gold! David Smith takes BC1 title to go one better than London

David Smith was dominant in the BC1 Individual final to run out 5-0 winner and improve on his silver from London 2012.

Having beaten his nemesis Paralympic Champion and World Number 1 Pattaya Tadtong in the quarter final the path to Gold looked clearer. It took an incredible final end in the semi final to see him run out 5-3 winner and he took that momentum into the final.

Smith was in control throughout against Daniel Perez from the Netherlands and took a point on each of the first three ends and then two in the final end to secure the Gold.

Smith now has four Paralympic medals from three Games and has exactly the same tally as his mentor Nigel Murray MBE - two Golds, one Silver and one Bronze. At 27 years old there are plenty more Games to add to that tally.