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 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
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.
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".
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.
GB Boccia's David Smith was appointed MBE in the New Years Honours List following his BC1 Indivdual triumph in Rio.
David, who now holds four Paralympic medals from three Games becomes the second British Boccia player to receive an honour following Nigel Murray MBE.
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.
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 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.”
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.
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.
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.
After 5 gruelling matches David Smith is through to the final of the BC1 Individual competition and GB Boccia have a guaranteed medal.
The opponent will be Daniel Perez of the Netherlands. Smith and Perez have met several times over the last few years and a good natured rivalry has developed
For the second time today Smithy had to come from behind in the final end. It was three points in the final end to earn a tie break against Tadtong in the quarter final but here Smith took four points from Kim of Korea to win 5-3 having been 1-3 down.
The match is at 16.30 UK time so follow the live tweeting on our twitter feed to keep up wit hthe action.
David Smith staged a heroic comeback to beat the World Number 1 and reigning Paralympic Champion Pattaya Tadtong of Thailand in the quarter finals of the BC1 Individual competition.
Smith was 4-1 down after three ends and facing an early exit but three on the last end forced the game to tie-break. With the momentum swinging in Smith's favour it was Tadtong who crumbled, missing the jack with his first ball. Smith nailed the jack with his first ball and Tadtong could do nothing about it with his five remaining balls. He plays again today (20:00 UK time) in the semi final against Won Jeong Yoo for a place in what would be his second individual Paralympic final.
Patrick Wilson also staged a stirring comeback but ultimately fell short against Kim of Korea. 4-0 down after two ends he regrouped to take two on the third end. Needing at least two on the final end he could only score one as Kim came out 4-3 winner and will play Greg Polychronidis in the semi final.
Stephen McGuire was also in quarter final action World Number 1 Yuk Wing Leung of Hong Kong. The first end was tied 1-1 and Leung added a single point on the second end. In the third end McGuire was holding one and had five balls to play but couldn't add to the tally which took the match all square going into the final end. Leung took two in the final end to triumph 4-2 and will face Pornchok Larpyen of Thailand in the semi.
BC1 David Smith, BC3 Patrick Wilson and BC4 Stephen McGuire all made it through the pool stage to the quarter finals as the other five GB athletes were knocked out.
Smith had good wins in his first two matches but lost the last to end up with the toughest possible quarter final against Pattaya Tadtong of Thailand. Facing the World Number 1 will be a rematch of the final in London 2012 with Smith hoping to avenge his defeat in that match. It will take place at 14.00 UK time on Thursday.
Wilson had to recover from a 3-0 deficit in his second pool game but clawed it back and will face Han Soo Kim of Korea, a player he beat 9-2 in Montreal earlier in the year, for a place in the semi finals. He will be on court at 14.00 UK time.
McGuire also came from behind in two of his pool games and still topped his group despite a loss to Dirceu Pinto of Brazil in his last match. World number 1 Yuk Wing Leung of Hong Kong finished second in his group so will be McGuire's opponent at 15.30 UK time on Thursday.
Nigel Murray, Josh Rowe, Jamie McCowan, Scott McCowan and Kieran Steer all exited the competition at the pool stage but will be court side to cheer on their compatriots in their matches.
It was an agonising third fourth place in two Games for Stephen McGuire as the BC4 Pair of McGuire, Evie Edwards and Kieran Steer lost 3-2 to Thailand in the Bronze medal match.
GB took one point on each of the first two ends and seemed in control but Thailand leveled it in the third end and nicked the fourth to come out 3-2 winners. It seemed GB had bounced back from their semi final defeat by host Brazil but McGuire and Steer must now look to the individual competition for an opportunity to win a first Paralympic medal.
David Smith, Nigel Murray and Josh Rowe will also be in individual competition and they will hope to be fresh after a days rest after going out of the Team event to Thailand at the Quarter final stage.
All three BC3 players will be in action too as they look to put their pool stage exit behind them.
Tomorrow's schedule is here and the GB matches are as follows (UK time):
1400 Jamie McCowan v Greg Polychronidis (GRE)
1515 Josh Rowe v Worawut Saengampa (THA)
1515 Patrick Wilson v Mario Peixoto (POR)
1730 David Smith v Jakub Nagy (SVK)
2000 Steph McGuire v Pedro Clara (POR)
2000 Kieran Steer v Eliseu Dos Santos (BRA)
2100 Scott McCowan v Nurulasyiqah Mohammad Taha (SIN)
2100 Patrick Wilson v Dan Michel (AUS)
2330 Joshua Rowe v Cristina Goncalves (POR)
2330 Nigel Murray v Manuel Martin (ESP)
GB won three and lost three as the Team and Pairs competition started at the Paralympic Games.
The BC4 Pair of Stephen McGuire, Evie Edward and Kieran Steer won both their games to put them in a commanding position in the pool. A tight game against Slovakia finished 4-2 while the Portugal match was more comfortable, GB took 4 in the first end and 6 in the third end to win 11-4. A tricky final pool game against Hong Kong awaits on day two.
The BC1/BC2 Team of David Smith, Nigel Murray, Josh Rowe and Claire Taggart made it through to the quarter final after winning one and losing one. The Team made the perfect start in what could have been a potential banana skin, beating the Netherlands 11-2. They could not maintain their form as they lost 10-4 to Japan after having taken 2 from the first end. The defeat means a tougher quarter final against World Number 1's Thailand, GB's conquerors in 2012.
The BC3 Pair of Patrick Wilson, Jamie McCowan and Scott McCowan exited the competition after defeats to Portugal 4-3 and Greece 4-1 meant they could not progress whatever the result of their final pool games against Singapore today. The BC3 event is incredibly competive but the Pair will be disappointed at relinquishing the lead in both matches having won the first end.
Today's (Sunday 11th September) schedule is as follows (time is British Summer Time):
1500 - BC4 Pair v Hong Kong in final pool game
1630 - BC3 Pair v Singapore in final pool game
1630 - BC1/BC2 Team v Thailand in quarter final
Ahead of the GB Boccia squad's departure to Rio for the Paralympic Games, BBC news featured Claire Taggart on the News at Ten, while Channel 4 News also profiled the sport.
Claire, from Larne in Northern Ireland, was filmed at camp at Surrey Sports Park and at home by Kate Grey, a former Paralympic swimmer. Claire talks about her background and aspirations for Rio in the video which you can watch here
Channel 4 News filmed a video at camp in Sheffield which can be seen below:
Boccia England announces the first National Boccia Day that will take place at sports clubs up and down the country on Saturday 17 September.
Disability sport boccia is one of the events of the Paralympic Games, being held in Rio de Janeiro and National Boccia Day is timed to coincide with the games.
Boccia England Interim CEO Jerome Pels said: ‘Boccia is celebrated as a very inclusive sport, and people of all ages and abilities can easily play.
Following the success of our athletes in the London 2012 Games, we have high hopes for this year and we wanted to bring some of the excitement of the games to a whole new audience at a local level. We want to encourage anyone, regardless of ability to come along for the day and try something new!’
Clubs that have already signed up include:
- Access Sport (Bristol) Boccia Club
- BEEs Boccia Club
- Bidston Bullets Boccia Club
- Boccia Sheffield
- Croydon Boccia Club
- Cumbria Wheelchair Sports Boccia Club
- Don’t Disability Boccia Club
- Hambleton Boccia Club
- Harlow Hurricanes Boccia Club
- Herne Bay Boccia Club
- Nottinghamshire Boccia Club
- Pauls Place Boccia Club
- Portland College Boccia Club
- Prince Arthur Boccia Club
- Sleaford Boccia Club
- Sportsable Boccia Club
- Telford Boccia Club
- YMCA Redhill Boccia Club
Boccia athlete and multi Paralympic medal winner David Smith said 'I think this is a truly great way to get more people involved in this awesome sport, and I hope that National Boccia Day inspires Paralympians of the future’.
For more information about how you can participate in National Boccia Day, visit the Boccia England website www.bocciaengland.org.uk.
The winners of the 2016 GB Boccia Championships went according to world rankings as David Smith, Nigel Murray, Jacob Thomas and Stephen McGuire came out on top.
The Championships, held at Surrey Sports Park in Guildford, were the final competitive opportunity for those players selected for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
The results were as follows:
1st - David Smith (ENG)
2nd - Andrew Morgan (ENG)
3rd - Rhodri Tudor (WAL)
1st - Nigel Murray (ENG)
2nd - Aran Guthrie (ENG)
3rd - Claire Taggart (NI)
1st - Jacob Thomas (WAL)
2nd - Scott McCowan (SCO)
3rd - Jamie McCowan (SCO)
1st - Stephen McGuire (SCO)
2nd - Kieran Steer (SCO)
3rd - Evie Edwards (ENG)
The draw for the 2016 GB Boccia Championships has been made and is available below.
The event is being held at Surrey Sports Park in Guildford on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th July. It is the final competitive opportunity for the GB players selected for the Paralympic Games before they fly out to Rio to take on the best in the world.
Spectators are more than welcome, entry is free and there are no tickets required.
The pools and schedule can be downloaded in PDF here