The search is on for a new Chair to take Boccia forwards to Tokyo and beyond.

The search for a new Chair to take Boccia forwards into Tokyo has begun. This highly successful Paralympic sport is looking for a dynamic, enthusiastic and inspiring individual who would like to join a team that is committed to winning, in the right way and for the right reasons. If you think you can support and guide us on our journey to Tokyo please click here for further info.

Closing date: Friday 25th January 2019

Interviews in London: Friday 8th February 2019

To apply for the position please email a CV and covering letter detailing your suitability for the position to dawnbrown@positivedynamics.co.uk by Friday 25th January 2019.

Smith takes Gold as Liverpool 2018 raises the bar for Boccia

The international boccia federation has hailed the BISFed 2018 World Boccia Championships (12-18 August) as a key turning point in the development of the sport worldwide.

Ahead of this evening’s Closing Ceremony, BISFed President David Hadfield explained how the Championships in Liverpool – which saw more than 180 athletes compete from 33 nations - have raised the bar:

“The Organising Committee have been so committed to making this not only a fantastic experience for our athletes but also a must-see spectator event. And they have certainly delivered. We have enjoyed seven days of world class action.

“Boccia is a sport which has perhaps flown under the radar compared to others but I am confident that Liverpool has generated real momentum. Looking ahead to Tokyo 2020 and learning from the way in which Liverpool has taken the Championships forward, BISFed’s ambition is to raise the bar even further.”

It is the UK’s first ticketed event for the sport outside of the Paralympic Games. Boccia UK Chair John Dowson has taken a lead role in not only the bidding for the World Championships two years ago but also the delivery:

“The athletes have been blown away by the World Championships – and they love the innovative layout of the field of play. For the first time in a boccia event, spectators have been able to get up close to all the action with courtside seating on the eleven outside courts. A central show court with aerial cameras has really added to the drama of the event.

“We wanted to build spectator excitement and atmosphere and we have certainly achieved that. Coupled with the fact that people have been able to watch all the action from around the world via BBC live streaming, the sport has been lifted to a whole new level.”

David Smith MBE thrilled a home crowd, winning the World individual BC1 title:

“Winning here means everything. The crowd have been awesome. I've really enjoyed it - the layout is spectacular. This is how Boccia be should be done and I hope the rest of the world take note. The venue’s great. The hotel’s great and the courts are cool as well.

Evie Edwards, who reached the quarter finals with the BC4 team, said:

“The show court really stands out for me. It’s been totally different to any other comp we’ve ever been it. These Championships have put the sport on more of a stage and the BBC coverage has really lifted the sport. Not many people know about boccia so hopefully more people will get involved after seeing it.”

Boccia is the world’s fastest growing Paralympic sport and organisers have also been keen to leave a legacy on the city of Liverpool. Come and try sessions have taken place every day of the Championships as part of a much wider £32,000 Boccia England legacy programme, funded by Sport England, which will see the establishment of a brand new club in the city.

Japanese broadcaster NHK also secured rights to televise the event and will be airing a documentary later in the year; building towards its coverage of the 2020 Paralympic Games.

The BISFed 2018 World Boccia Championships has been made possible thanks to UK Sport’s National Lottery funding through its Major Events Programme.

The Championships are drawing to a close with a Closing Ceremony which will feature choir, Only Boys Aloud, who finished third in Britain’s Got Talent in May 2012.

GB bring home four medals from World Open Povoa

David Smith MBE was once again the star as GB amassed a haul of four medals from the BISFed 2018 World Boccia Open Povoa, Portugal.

Smith romped through the Individual BC1 competition, winning seven matches on the trot to cement his status as World Number 1 heading into the World Championships in Liverpool in August.

GB won two medals in the Individual BC3 competition. The final pitted World Number 2 Jamie McCowan against Greg Polychronidis of Greece but, having won his previous five matches, succumbed 0-5, finishing with the silver medal. Polychronidis also accounted for Patrick Wilson in the semi-final but he bounced back to take the bronze medal from another Greek, Anna Ntenta.

In the Individual BC4 World Number 1 Stephen McGuire rallied after a surprise loss in his first match to make it to the semi-finals, where he was beaten by old rival Samuel Andrecijk of Slovakia. He was unable to claim the bronze losing a tight match 3-4 to Pornchok Larpyen of Thailand.

McGuire did leave Portugal with a medal though as he teamed up with Evie Edwards and Louis Saunders to clinch BC4 Pairs bronze. The Slovakians again accounted for GB at the semi final stage but Canada were vanquished in the playoff to bring GB's medal tally to four.

Neither the BC3 Pair nor BC1/BC2 Team were able to advance through the pool stages.

With only a month until the officials arrivals day at the World Championships the GB athletes will be fine tuning their preparation for the biggest event since the 2016 Paralympic Games

Full results are available from the BISFed website: http://www.bisfed.com/latest-results/

2018 UK Champions Crowned at Inverclyde

The best of British Boccia descended on a sunny Largs in Scotland for the 2018 United Kingdom Boccia Championships and World Rankings held true as each class was won by the highest ranked player.

David Smith MBE continued his incredible run of British Championships as he captured the title for the 15th time. Claire Taggart won her maiden UK crown in the BC2 class while Jamie McCowan became the first player to be a UK Champ in two different classifications as he took top spot in BC3 having previously taken the BC4 Gold. Stephen McGuire continued his run of winning every competition he has entered in 2018, dominating the BC4 classification.

BC1 Medalists

Gold: David Smith MBE (Eng)
Silver: Reegan Stevenson (Sco)
Bronze: Caroline Robinson (Eng)

BC1.jpg

BC2 Medalists

Gold: Claire Taggart (NI)
Silver: Reshad Saraj (Eng)
Bronze: Will Hipwell (Eng)

BC2.jpg

BC3 Medalists

Gold: Jamie McCowan (Sco)
Silver: Will Arnott (Eng)
Bronze: Scott McCowan (Sco)

BC3.jpg

BC4 Medalists

Gold: Stephen McGuire (Sco)
Silver: Evie Edwards (Eng)
Bronze: Peter McGuire (Sco)

BC4.jpg

Results from Day 1 of 2018 UK Champs

After the first day of the 2018 UK Boccia Championships the semi finalists in BC1, BC2 and BC4 are known whilst there are two shoot outs for knock out spots in BC3 first thing on Sunday.

Reigning champions David Smith (BC1), Tim Hayes (BC2) and Stephen McGuire (BC4) all navigated safe passage to the semis. GB squad members Claire Taggart, Will Hipwell and Evie Edwards will also be playing for places in Sunday's finals.

Having both lost to England's Will Arnott, Scott McCowan and Patrick Wilson will go head to head for a semi final position against World Number 2 Jamie McCowan.

 BC1 Pools Results

BC1 Pools Results

 BC2 Results

BC2 Results

 BC3 Results with the final pool games to be played on Sunday

BC3 Results with the final pool games to be played on Sunday

 BC4 Results

BC4 Results

 Schedule

Schedule

GB Squad selected for World Championships

Stephen McGuire and David Smith MBE have both been named in Great Britain's 10-strong squad for the BISFed 2018 World Boccia Championships that take place at Exhibition Centre Liverpool from 12-18 August.

Fresh from winning two gold medals at the Montreal Boccia World Open, Scotland’s McGuire is BC4 world number one and will be aiming to defend his individual. He has also revealed that he believes Great Britain can “top the medal table” at the World Championships in Liverpool in August:

“It will be incredibly tough, we will need to keep our discipline and focus but we have the athletes to do it. Britain has the strongest unity I have witnessed over my ten years and counting of being involved in the squad. We push each other across every classification on a daily basis and I believe this has led to our success over the past few seasons.”

Smith, who lives in Swansea, can boast four Paralympics medals including individual gold from Rio in 2016. He added European Champion to his long list of titles in 2017.

They will be joined by five other Paralympians Claire Taggart (Larne, Northern Ireland), Jamie McCowan (South Ayrshire), Patrick Wilson (Edinburgh)) Jess Hunter (Staines, Middlesex) and Evie Edwards (Elmsett, Suffolk).

New faces in the squad complete the line-up. Swansea’s Ricky Stevenson impressed selectors at the 2017 UK Championships where he pushed his mentor David Smith all the way in two close matches. He made his international debut in the 2018 Regional Open Madrid.

Will Hipwell (Papworth Everard, Cambs) made his international debut in 2017 while Louis Saunders (Bognor Regis, Sussex) is the youngest player on squad. At 16, he is currently juggling his training with GCSE studies.

Helen Nicholls, Boccia UK’s recently appointed Performance Director, said:

"The squad is approaching the event with high hopes and confidence. While the line-up includes previous Paralympic and World medallists such as David Smith MBE and Stephen McGuire, it also contains athletes looking to make their mark and deliver significant performances on the world stage, demonstrating a real strength in depth across the four classifications.

“The British team will face significant international challenge in its mission to leave Liverpool with medals and titles however each player selected has demonstrated the dedication, commitment and skill required to put themselves in the place where they can challenge for a position on the podium, which is ultimately what elite sport is all about. The next eight weeks will be about ensuring each selected player can enter the Championships with the best possible preparation to deliver what they are capable of when it really matters.”

The Brits will be joined by around 180 other athletes from 32 nations from right around the globe. They will descend on Liverpool to battle it out for World titles as well as ranking points ahead of the Tokyo Paralympics in 2020.

The BISFed 2018 World Boccia Championships has been made possible thanks to UK Sport’s National Lottery funding through its Major Events Programme.

Legacy plan for the World Championships

With 100 days to go until the BISFed 2018 World Boccia Championships in Liverpool, Paralympic gold medallist David Smith MBE today unveiled a £32,000 legacy masterplan to improve the lives of local people with disabilities.

Funded by Sport England, the investment aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people in Liverpool. Smith - who was also on hand today to deliver a boccia masterclass to local club Greenbank Giants and pupils from Broadgreen International School

“It’s fantastic that the World Championships will be hosted in Liverpool. But it’s really important that, long after the final ball is played, there is a legacy of local people with disabilities feeling inspired and more confident to try out the sport of boccia.”

 David Smith MBE with pupils from Sandfield Park School

David Smith MBE with pupils from Sandfield Park School

The funding will be invested into establishing a brand new boccia club in the centre of the city. Boccia England will be working with local partners to deliver ‘come and try’ sessions in a range of community settings as well as attending local disability sport festivals and events. Competitive opportunities will also be set up so that players can thrive and improve in the sport. Meanwhile, there will also be a drive to recruit and train local volunteers to support the World Championships as well as future local events and activities.

And while the world’s best boccia players will be competing for World Championship titles, beginners and those curious to try out the sport themselves will be able to get involved in taster sessions every day at the event.

 “Even though boccia is a Paralympic sport, many people don’t even know it exists,” adds Smith. “So we’ll be using the World Championships as a shop window for the sport to get word out there and raise awareness because boccia is a huge lifeline for people with disabilities like mine – it improves coordination, strength and it is a great way to meet people and be sociable.”

Local schools will also be ringing the bell for boccia. The Boccia Skills Award will help pupils develop innovation, responsibility, resilience, communication and evaluation.

Chris Ratcliffe, CEO of Boccia England, explains what the funding means to the sport:

“When we were bidding to host the World Championships, we always knew we wanted to ensure that this was not just a major world class event where the people of the City of Liverpool could come and see the best players from around the globe in action, but also an opportunity for the local community to try out the sport for themselves.

“We are committed to ensuring that the people of Liverpool take boccia to their hearts and that’s why we’ll be setting up a new club in the city, visiting care homes, schools and communities to deliver ‘come and try’ sessions as well as recruiting and training new volunteers.”

Phil Smith, Sport England’s Director of Sport, said: “We’re delighted to support the World Boccia Championships with National Lottery funding to engage the local community.  Boccia is a superb game where disabled people can get more active while having great fun and the World Championships in Liverpool will bring the sport to a wider audience.”

Chair of Boccia UK John Dowson explained:

“We are gearing up to the stage the best BISFed World Boccia Championships ever seen; a truly memorable experience for players and spectators. I am thrilled that the seven days of World class action will be running side by side with a grassroots, legacy programme set to improve the lives of people with disabilities in Liverpool.”

Liverpool’s Assistant Mayor and Cabinet Member for culture, tourism and events, Councillor Wendy Simon, said: “We are committed to making it easy for everyone to access sport, and aim to breakdown any barriers which may prevent disabled people from taking up an activity.

“The Boccia World Championships is one of the highlight sporting events of our Liverpool 2018 programme, and we are pleased to be able to shine a spotlight on this competitive activity which will have a tangible legacy in Liverpool.

“Opportunities such as this will build youngster’s confidence and encourage them to try something new and hopefully we will unearth the next generation of Boccia champs!”

David Hadfield, President of Boccia International Sports Federation (BISFed), said:

“I am so pleased with how the planning and delivery for the World Championships in Liverpool is progressing. Athletes around the world are looking forward to being able to perform in what will be a quite spectacular venue. If you have not yet bought your tickets, I encourage you to do so and be prepared to be amazed by some of the most exciting sport available this summer.”

The World Championships – which is funded by The National Lottery - is set to attract 190 players from 33 countries to Exhibition Centre Liverpool from the 12-18 August 2018. Athletes will battle it out for world titles, as well as crucially important ranking points ahead of the Tokyo Paralympic Games in 2020.

2018 World Boccia Championships has been made possible thanks to UK Sport’s National Lottery funding through its Major Events Programme.

The Road to the Worlds starts in Spain

The Boccia UK squad will travel to Madrid this weekend for the first competition of 2018.

The BISFed European Regional Open will take place in Pinto with competition from the 27th to 31st March. The squad have been training hard over the winter since the successful European Championships in October 2017 that saw David Smith, Jamie McCowan and Stephen McGuire all crowned individual winners.

Following Madrid the squad will travel to Canada in April and Portugal in July before the year's main event, the World Boccia Championships in Liverpool in August.

First though they must brush off any cobwebs in Spain in a field that contains a mix of newcomers and world class players.

David Smith and Ricky Stevenson will compete in the BC1 class with Welshman Stevenson making his international debut following a strong showing at the 2017 UK Championships. He pushed World Number 1 Smith hard at that competition and will be keen to make an impression at this level. Smith's main opposition with be the Netherlands Paralympic Silver medallist Daniel Perez.

The highest ranked player in the BC2 competition is Bernd Meints of the Netherlands at 10 so there is an opportunity for Claire Taggart and Will Hipwell to make an impression on the competition.

Leading the way in the BC3 event is Greek Paralympic legend Greg Polychronidis, the current World number 2. He is not unbeatable however as Scott McCowan overcame him at last years equivalent event in Sant Cugat. World number 4 Jamie McCowan and 10th ranked Patrick Wilson will also be in the mix for medals.

Stephen McGuire tops the BC4 world rankings with Laszlo Hedegus of Hungary his closest challenger at 18. However half the field of twenty are new athletes requiring classification so there is the potential for a bright new talent to emerge. Evie Edwards and Louis Saunders, both taking a break from studying for their degree and GCSE's respectively, will also have the chance to shine, with Edwards having beaten Hedegus to Bronze in Sant Cugat in 2017.

More information on the competition can be found at https://regionalbocciapinto2018.com/en/

 

Tickets on sale for World Boccia Championships

Tickets have today officially gone on sale for the BISFed 2018 World Boccia Championships.

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The World Championships – which is funded by The National Lottery - is set to attract 190 players from 33 countries to Exhibition Centre Liverpool from the 12-18 August 2018. A limited number of early bird tickets are now available and are expected to sell out quickly.

Boccia is a Paralympic sport where the aim is to throw or roll balls closer to the target ball, the jack, than your opponent. All boccia athletes have an impairment that affects all four of their limbs; consequently they play from wheelchairs. It is a sport which requires strategic skill, superb muscle control and precision.

Athletes will battle it out for world titles, as well as crucially important ranking points ahead of the Tokyo Paralympic Games in 2020. Hopes are certainly riding high for the British team. Leading the way is David Smith MBE who won gold at the Rio Paralympics in 2016:

“For us as athletes, it’s a huge coup that it is taking place on home turf. Support from a home crowd means everything – we felt it in London 2012 and it was spectacular – and I truly believe that knowing the crowd is willing you on really can lift your performance to another level.

“This is also the first ever international boccia event, outside of a Paralympics, that is ticketed so it is a big moment for the sport. The Championship team is being really innovative in the way it is building a brilliant, spectator-friendly event so if you have never seen international boccia before, here’s your chance. We would really love to see as many of you – schools, clubs, individuals and families – out in force to support us,” added David.

This is a great opportunity to watch world class sporting action ahead of the Paralympic Games in just two years’ time. But the event also aims to create a long-lasting legacy. A family-friendly sports festival showcasing the sport of boccia and the opportunities to play will run alongside the nail-biting sporting action.

Chair of Boccia UK John Dowson explained: “Boccia saw sell-out crowds in London 2012 and Rio 2016. The sport is growing at a terrific pace internationally so we are thrilled to be hosting the BISFed 2018 World Boccia Championships. It’s the largest event on the boccia calendar and we are gearing up to provide an unrivalled experience for both athletes and spectators.”

BISFed is the international federation for boccia. Its President David Hadfield said: “I am very excited that we are bringing international boccia to the city of Liverpool. The World Championships is the most important event outside the Paralympic Games, and with more countries and athletes participating than ever before, I am confident that Boccia UK and its partners will organise a magnificent tournament.”

Esther Britten, Head of Major Events at UK Sport said: “We invest National Lottery funding into major sporting events to inspire the nation; hosting the Boccia World Championships will play a key part in helping us achieve this. We look forward to working in partnership with GB Boccia, City of Liverpool and ACC Liverpool to bring this pinnacle event to the UK.”

Liverpool’s Assistant Mayor and Cabinet Member for culture, tourism and events, Councillor Wendy Simon, said: “Liverpool and sport go hand in hand, and it’s the perfect city to showcase a variety of major sporting events.  In 2018 we are celebrating ten years since our reign as European Capital of Culture, and to mark this the city is staging an incredible programme of events. The Boccia World Championships are an exciting part of this and we look forward to welcoming the passionate fans to our world class venue for an unforgettable competition.”

The BISFed 2018 World Boccia Championships has been made possible thanks to UK Sport’s National Lottery funding through its Major Events Programme.

Tickets are available to buy here

Helen Nicholls appointed Boccia UK Performance Director

Following a strong competition we are pleased to announce that Helen Nicholls has been appointed to succeed Matt Hammond as the Performance Director of Boccia UK.

Helen’s background as an athlete, coach and manager within the high performance system - with a number of Olympic, Paralympic, winter and summer sports - will enable her to add enormous value as we develop the potential for the sport further.

John Dowson, Chair of Boccia UK, said "We were very pleased with the overall interest shown by a strong range of candidates and particularly pleased that Helen Nicholls will be taking up the appointment. Her knowledge, built up over a number of sports and through UK Sport, will enable her to make a very strong contribution both in this World Championships year and in the future."

Helen Nicholls said "I am delighted to be joining Boccia UK as Performance Director and to be given the opportunity to lead such a high performing and respected World Class Programme on the journey to Tokyo and beyond. My background in Sailing, where I was an Athlete at a time when lottery funding was first introduced to the UK system, then moving into Coaching at elite level, before moving into management has given me a unique insight into the complex journey to the top of elite sport. My role of Performance Advisor at UK Sport has afforded me a privileged position in supporting and guiding world class programmes to deliver exceptional performances in Olympic and Paralympic sport. I look forwards to using my experience and knowledge to lead Boccia’s world class team in delivering world class results."

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.

IMG-20171118-WA0000.jpg

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.”