A team of 10 boccia athletes and four competition partners have today been announced by the British Paralympic Association (BPA), including reigning individual BC4 World Champion and Pairs BC4 European Champion Stephen McGuire and London 2012 medallists David Smith and Nigel Murray MBE.
A Paralympic-specific sport similar to boules, boccia is a sport that requires deep tactical nuance as well as incredible accuracy and control from its athletes. Games can be nail-bitingly tense with the result often not decided until the final ball is thrown. As a result, athletes have to maintain intense concentration if they want to come out on top.
Smith was a London 2012 individual BC1 silver medallist and featured in the bronze medal-winning BC1/BC2 team at London 2012 alongside Murray.
Speaking today, Smith said:
“I am really happy to be selected to compete at my third Paralympic Games. Beijing and London were both completely different experiences, and I look forward to finding out what Rio has in store for me.
“The standard of international competition continues to go up, but I’ve remained focused on my preparations to ensure I’m in the best possible place. I hope the country will get behind us and help supercharge the team to success.”
Murray will be competing at his fifth Games and will compete in both individual and team competitions once again, while Smith is returning for his third Games.
“There’s no greater honour to represent your country on the international stage and this is the ultimate competition for our sport. The selection process has been tough, but it’s been great to welcome some new faces on to the team as it demonstrates the great strength in depth in the squad, something which keeps pushing us to give the best possible performance every time we compete.”
Smith and Murray are joined in the BC1/BC2 team by Games debutants Josh Rowe and Claire Taggart. This quartet won BC1/BC2 Team gold at the 2015 European Team and Pair Championships in Guildford.
The selected team also includes the McCowan brothers, Jamie and Scott, who play together in the BC3 pairs competition and against each other in the individual competition regularly on the international circuit. Linda McCowan, mother of the brothers, will take on the role of ramp assistant for Jamie, while Dad Gary is Scott’s ramp assistant, meaning the whole family will be in competition in Rio.
Speaking today, Jamie said:
“I’m made up to be competing at my first Paralympic Games, it was a really special moment for the family to share when we heard the news. I’ve learnt a lot from Scott’s experience at London 2012, and it will help form part of my preparations for Rio. I’ve been working really hard on improving every aspect of my game and I can’t wait to go out there and compete.”
Joining the McCowan family in the BC3 category will be Patrick Wilson, who won a 2014 World Championship silver medal in the BC3 pair with Scott McCowan.
In the BC4 category, World Champion Stephen McGuire is joined by Kieran Steer and Evie Edwards. The trio won a team silver medal at the 2015 BISFed European Championships.
Penny Briscoe MBE, Chef de Mission for ParalympicsGB, said:
“With all the tactical nous of chess and the accuracy of archery, this is a sport that is so exciting to watch and I cannot wait to get to the Carioca venues in Rio to support this incredible team. There is so much medal potential in here that I know they will make the nation proud when they compete at Games.”
Matt Hammond, Team Leader for GB Boccia, said:
“Today’s announcement is a proud moment for me as team leader and I’m delighted to confirm our line-up for Rio. The team is as strong as it’s ever been and these athletes have been pushed throughout the qualification period to deliver the performances needed to secure their place on the team. I’d like to congratulate the athletes and their competition partners for all of their hard work up to this point and I believe we can pose a real threat to our rivals on the court in Rio."
Selected athletes are:
BC1 David Smith (competition partner: Sarah Nolan)
Home town: Eastleigh
Main training base: Swansea
BC2 Nigel Murray
Home town: Leamington Spa
Main training base: Warwick St Nicholas Park Leisure Centre
BC2 Joshua Rowe
Home town: Perth
Main training base: Stirling
BC2 Claire Taggart
Home town: Larne
Main training base: Larne
BC3 Patrick Wilson (competition partner: Kim Smith)
Home town: Edinburgh
Main training base: Edinburgh
BC3 Jamie McCowan (competition partner: Linda McCowan)
Home town: Dundonald, Ayrshire
Main training base:Dundonald
BC3 Scott McCowan (competition partner: Gary McCowan)
Home town: Dundonald, Ayrshire
Main training base: Dundonald
BC4 Stephen McGuire
Home town: Hamilton
Main training base: University of the West of Scotland
BC4 Kieran Steer
Home town: Crossgates, Fife
Main training base: Fife
BC4 Evie Edwards
Home town: Ipswich
Main training base: Ipswich