The Great Britain squad for the 2015 Boccia European Team and Pairs Championships, taking place on the 25th and 26th of July at Surrey Sports Park, has been announced. Part of the UK Sport Road to Rio series, the Championships see the top eight sides in Europe in each classification travel to Guildford. The winners of the BC1/BC2 Team, BC3 Pairs and BC4 Pairs events will all win a direct qualification slot for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
The Great Britain squad is:
- BC1 David Smith (Eastleigh, Hampshire, living in Swansea)
- BC2 Nigel Murray MBE (Leamington Spa, Warickshire)
- BC2 Joshua Rowe (Perth, Scotland)
- BC2 Claire Taggart (County Antrim, Northern Ireland)
- BC3 Jacob Thomas (Pembrokeshire, Wales)
- BC3 Scott McCowan (South Ayrshire, Scotland)
- BC3 Patrick Wilson (Edinburgh)
- BC4 Stephen McGuire (Hamilton)
- BC4 Kieran Steer (Fife)
- BC4 Evie Edwards (Elmsett, Suffolk)
The World number 1 ranked BC1/BC2 Team is the same line-up that won the 2015 European Continental Cup held in Barcelona in April. Captained by BC1 World Number 1 David Smith, it features four time Paralympian Nigel Murray and Scotland’s Josh Rowe who won Gold and Silver respectively in the individual event at the Continental Cup. The line-up is completed by Claire Taggart who impressed on her international debut in Spain.
The BC3 Pair, currently ranked number 1 in the World, will feature Paralympians Jacob Thomas and Scott McCowan. Thomas has risen up the individual rankings to a career high of 4 whilst McCowan is also in the World’s top ten. They are joined by Patrick Wilson and they will be looking to go one better than the Silver medal won at last year’s World Championships in Beijing.
Ranked second in the World the BC4 Pair is also a mix of youth and experience. Former World Championships Silver medallist Stephen McGuire, who placed 4th in both Pair and Individual competitions at the London 2012 Paralympic Games is joined by Continental Cup Individual Gold medallist Kieran Steer. After beating the World number 2 in Barcelona, Evie Edwards is in form and completes a strong GB line up.
Boccia is a Paralympic sport with no Olympic equivalent. It is a target ball sport with similarities to bowls and curling designed specifically for athletes with a disability. Played indoors with soft leather balls, the aim of the game is to get your balls closer to the white ‘jack’ ball than your opponent.
The BC1/BC2 Team consists of three players on court per side, at least one of whom must be from the BC1 classification. All players in these classifications have Cerebral Palsy. Great Britain as European Champions and Paralympic and World Bronze medallists will be battling for the title with old foes Portugal sure to mount a challenge.
The BC3 Pair has two players on court per side. The BC3 players use an assistive device, known as a ramp, to propel the ball onto court. It will be a hotly contested competition with three of the World’s top four based in Europe. World Silver medallists Great Britain will be vying for Gold with Paralympic Champions Greece.
The BC4 classification is for athletes who do not have Cerebral Palsy but have conditions that are functionally similar. The BC4 Pair features two players aside on court. European Champions Great Britain will have to beware Hungary who will be out for revenge having taken the Silver medal behind them in Portugal in 2013.