GB Boccia deliver BISFed 'Making Boccia Accessible' project in Dubai

Making Boccia Accessible programme supported by BISFed, Agitos Foundation, UK Sport and Hogan Lovells, aims to train Boccia Ambassadors across 3 continents and 20 countries to enable the candidates to return to their home country to begin to encourage more Boccia Ambassadors to enter the game with the hope that up to 10,000 new boccia players can be introduced into the sport.

400 boccia sets are being circulated as part of the project and National Paralympic Committees with trained Boccia Ambassadors will receive 10 sets via their local High Commission.

Andrinne Craig and Darren Thomson from Scotland were selected by Scottish Disability Sport to represent BISFed to deliver this exciting initiative in Dubai following session in Africa and South America. The tutors have many years’ experience in coaching and officiating Boccia and are also involved in the coach and officials education system in Scotland.

Scottish Disability Sport, who are the governing body for sport for people with a disability in Scotland and are a member of GB Boccia, have a history of supporting and developing boccia at local, regional and international level involving players and officials. They are also leading partners on coach and officials education programmes in Scotland and the UK.

17 Candidates arrived in Dubai representing the following countries, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Jordan, Mongolia and UAE.

These candidates had a very wide range of prior knowledge of Boccia with candidates form Mongolia claiming that this was the “first time they had touched a Boccia ball” to India stating that they have “around 10 people playing the sport”.

David Hadfield, President of BISFed, was in attendance for parts of the delivery but was also involved in the feedback session.

All candidates appeared to enjoy the course and gave excellent feedback.

The key elements that arose were that candidates were going to take their new knowledge back to their own countries and deliver further training, events etc.

This was summarised by the Sri Lankan candidate’s comments:

“We were looking for opportunities for children with cerebral palsy and love that boccia is so inclusive. We will create a boccia group/forum and train ambassadors from each district who can begin to deliver boccia to children in those areas.  There are three CP special schools with 110+ pupils and now they have a sport to play.  We want to create happiness and the opportunity for children to play sport through Boccia”.

The session ended with David Hadfield giving is thanks to all the candidates for their attendance and their commitment to further develop Boccia in their country.

GB win six medals at the World Open Povoa in final competition before Rio

The squad won six medals from seven events with David Smith taking BC1 Gold the highlight.

BC1/BC2 Team (David Smith, Nigel Murray, Josh Rowe, Claire Taggart)

Silver

The Team won one and lost one in their pool to qualify for the semi-finals where a 14-2 victory over Brazil saw them take on Japan in the final. The match finished 7-7 but Japan presided on the tie-break to take Gold.

BC3 Pair (Jacob Thomas, Patrick Wilson, Jamie McCowan)

Bronze

The Pair won all three of their pool games, scoring 32 points and only conceding one. They beat Belgium 10-1 in the quarters but went down 4-1 to eventual winners Russia. They got back on track with a 10-1 win over Sweden to take Bronze

BC4 Pair (Stephen McGuire, Kieran Steer, Evie Edwards)

6th

The Pair were drawn in a tough pool and lost to Slovakia and Germany with a solitary win against Russia. Brazil beat Canada in the final.

BC1

David Smith - Gold

Smith went through the competition unbeaten sailing through the pool and knock out games, beating Daniel Perez of the Netherlands to take Gold

BC2

Nigel Murray - Bronze
Josh Rowe - 4th
Claire Taggart - 16th

All GB athletes made it out of their pools. Claire Taggart came up against World Cup 2010 winner Abilio Valente of Portugal in the last sixteen and lost 11-1. Rowe and Murray both made it as far as the semi finals but both were knocked out, Rowe by World no 2 Maciel Santos of Brazil and Murray by Bernd Meints of the Netherlands. It was therefore an all GB scrap forBronze with Murray prevailing 7-1.

BC3

Patrick Wilson - Bronze
Jamie McCowan - 9th
Jacob Thomas - 15th

McCowan and Thomas both bowed out at the last 16 stage while Wilson, having won all of his pool games was halted at the semi final stage by Canada's Eric Bussiere. He bounced back to take Bronze with a 4-0 win over Brazil's Evelyn Oliviera who had previously beaten Thomas.

BC4

Stephen McGuire - Bronze
Kieran Steer - 14th
Evie Edwards - 16th

World Champion McGuire followed a similar trajectory to Wilson with Pedro Clara of Portugal his conqueror in the semi final. Like Wilson he regrouped to defaet multiple Paralympic medalist Eliseu dos Santos in the Bronze match. Steer and Edwards both went out in the last 16, Edwards beaten by McGuire.

For full results please click here
 

BC3's in the medals in Montreal

GB won two individual and a pairs medal at the BISFed World Open Montreal.

Jamie McCowan beat Patrick Wilson in a tight match in the semi final of the individual BC3 competition having already overcome him in the pool stage. McCowan ended up with silver after a 6-2 loss to Korea's Howon Jeong in the final. Wilson took bronze after a 5-2 win over Russia's Aleksandr Legostaev.

The individual competition had followed a strong BC3 Pairs run for the British duo which ended with a bronze medal. McCowan and Wilson met the Korean pair in the semi and lost 4-1 but beat Russia by the same score to take home a medal.

Will Hipwell in the individual BC2 and Jamie Docherty in the individual BC4 were the other GB players at the event but neither made it out of their pool.

Stephen McGuire is Paralympic Athlete of the Month for March

Stephen McGuire capped a fine month by following up his Gold medal at the World Individual Championships by being named IPC Allianz Athlete of the Month.

McGuire took the title in Beijing in the BC4 Individual event beating his London 2012 semi final conqueror Yuansen Zheng 4-3 in the final. It was a first global title for McGuire who took World Silver in 2010.

McGuire received a majority of the public vote. The USA’s sitting volleyball player Heather Erickson came in second in the polls. British track cyclist Megan Gilgia was third, followed by Australian table tennis player Melissa Tapper and US cross-country skier Oksana Masters in fourth and fifth, respectively.

He follows Nigel Murray MBE as the second winner of the Athlete of the Month award. Murray won the title in April 2015 after bringing home two Gold medals from the Continental Cup.

McGuire and Smith in World Top 3 as new rankings released

Stephen McGuire rose to second in the World Rankings on the back of his World Individual Championships success while David Smith dropped to third despite his Bronze medal.

In the BC3 class the former World Number 1 Jacob Thomas maintained a strong ranking position in fourth despite not attending the Worlds. Scott McCowan, who was a late withdrawal, slipped to 20th while Patrick Wilson climbed to eighth after his strong showing in Beijing.

In the BC2 class GB have no athletes in the World Top Ten as Nigel Murray MBE fell to 13th after an early exit in China.

The Team and Pair rankings remain unchanged with the BC1/BC2 Team in second, BC3 Pair in 6th and BC4 Pair in 4th. The individual rankings of all GB players are as follows:

BC1
David Smith - 3rd

BC2
Nigel Murray MBE - 13th
Joshua Rowe - 19th
Martin Davis - 21st
Claire Taggart - 56th

BC3
Jacob Thomas - 4th
Patrick Wilson - 8th
Scott McCowan - 20th
Jamie McCowan - 31st
Jess Hunter - 77th

BC4
Stephen McGuire - 2nd
Kieran Steer - 18th
Evie Edwards - 26th
Jamie Docherty - 43rd
 

Stephen McGuire is BC4 World Champion

GB returned from the World Individual Championships in Beijing China with two medals, a Gold for Stephen McGuire in the BC4 classification and BC1 Bronze for David Smith.

The Championships, held between the 19th and 28th March, were notable in that Great Britain was the only nation outside Asia to win a medal with Thailand and Korea picking up the other Golds and China,Japan and Hong Kong sharing the other medals.

In the BC1 event Smith made hard work of his pool. having lost 5-1 to Ibarbure of Argentina in his opener he needed to win to progress. He did so, triumphing over Mexico's Ventura on a tie break after the match finished 3-3. Having finished second in his group he had to face World Number 1 Daniel Perez of the Netherlands in the last sixteen. He overcame Perez with ease 6-1 and then beat his Brazilian opponent in the quarter finals 9-0 to set up a semi final with Thailand's Pattaya Tadtong who beat Smith in the final at London 2012. Once again Smith could not cope with Tadtong who won 8-0 but beat Soulanis of Greece 4-2 to take the bronze. Tadtong saw off his countryman Witsanu Huadprit to win Gold

None of GB's BC2's made it out of the pool stage. Josh Rowe and Martin Davis were unlucky to be drawn in the same group. The all GB game was won by Rowe on a tiebreak after the match ended 5-5 but he lost his remaining two matches. Davis claimed a win but it was not enough and he finished third in the pool. Nigel Murray also had a tricky pool losing two and winning one to finish bottom. The damage was done by an 8-2 defeat against old foe Fernando Ferreira of Portugal. Davis finished 20th overall, with Murray 28th and Rowe 29th. Another Thai, Worawut Saengampa, took Gold.

The BC3's were depleted as World Number 1 Jacob Thomas was not selected as he comes back from illness, while World Number 8 Scott McCowan had to withdraw on the eve of the event. This left Patrick Wilson and Jamie McCowan to carry the flag. Both made it out of their pools, made it to the quarter finals and were defeated by Koreans. Wilson had a 100% in his pool in a series of high scoring matches and the trend continued as he beat Hong Kong's Ho 7-4 to set up a semi against World Number 2 Ho Won Jeong. Wilson lost 5-1 to the eventual Champion but can be proud of his performance. McCowan, who was making his debut in the BC3 event having previously been a BC4, was unseeded and drawn in a tough group. Despite defeat to Sweden's Sebastian Hogrell he progressed top of the group thanks to a 3-2 win over World Number 5 Peter Cillisen of Belgium. Having seen off Vasicek of the Czech Republic 6-3 in the last 16 he narrowly lost the quarter final 5-4 to Ye Jin Choi. McCowan ended up 5th and Wilson 7th.

Veteran Stephen McGuire faced a tricky pool which included European Champion Samuel Andrecijk of Slovakia. McGuire lost a tie break to Andrecijk when the match ended 3-3 but won a tie break after the same score against Ciobanu of Canada. A 9-0 victory in his final match was enough to send him through second in the group. McGuire advanced to the final by beating Hedegus of Hungary, Durkovic of Slovakia and Kim of Korea. Awaiting him in the final was Yuansen Zheng, who defeated him 12-0 in the semi final at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Revenge was McGuire's as he held out for a 4-3 victory which saw his eclipse his previous best, a silver at the 2010 World Championships. Evie Edwards was unlucky not to make it out of her pool, losing just one match and defeating the 2012 Paralympic Gold Medalist Dirceu Pinto.

GB Boccia select players for World Individual Championships

Great Britain have named an experienced squad for the 2016 BISFed World Individual Championships, to be held in Beijing, China from the 19th-26th March.

It is the first time that a separate World Individual Championships has been held and players will be able to focus solely on their own performances with no Team and Pairs competition. The winner of each class will qualify directly for Rio while good performances will earn big ranking points to enable individual participation at the Paralympic Games.

BC1
David Smith (Eastleigh, living in Swansea)
Smith is the reigning World Champion and world number 2 who will be looking to reclaim top spot from the Netherlands Daniel Perez.

BC2
Nigel Murray MBE (Leamington Spa)
Murray is currently world ranked 6 in the World and has pedigree in individual competition with a Gold in Sydney in 2000 and a Silver at Beijing 2008

Josh Rowe (Perth)
Rowe won Silver in the European Continental Cup behind Murray in 2015 and is ranked 14 in the World. He will be looking to build on that result by having an impact a a World level event

Martin Davis (Aberdare, South Wales)
Davis made the semi finals of the 2015 World Open in Poland overcoming Portugal's Fernando Ferreira en route. Ranked 24th he will be a dark horse in the BC2 field

BC3
Scott McCowan (Dundonald, Ayrshire)
With World Number 1 Jacob Thomas recovering from illness, McCowan is the highest ranked GB BC3 at the Championships. Ranked 8th he will be looking to secure a final ranking in the top ten to secure Rio participation

Patrick Wilson (Edinburgh)
A relative newcomer Wilson has made it out of his pool at every competition he has attended despite a low World ranking, beating some notable players along the way. Now ranked 18th in the World, Wilson has a chance to make some serious progress.

Jamie McCowan (Dundonald, Ayrshire)
Formerly a BC4 athlete, McCowan now brings his ferociously competitive game to the BC3 game. With this being his debut as a BC3 and having no World ranking some highly ranked players are going to have a shock on their hands as the McCowan brothers have some very tight inter-family matches in training.

BC4
Stephen McGuire (Hamilton, South Lanarkshire)
Now a veteran of the squad McGuire's most notable individual result was a Silver medal in the 2010 World Championships. He also finished 4th at London 2012 and without the fatigue caused by a Pairs event first he could be poised to challenge for a medal

Kieran Steer (Fife)
Steer won Gold at the European Continental Cup in 2015 which was his maiden individual title. With a world ranking of 12 he will be a strong contender to progress to the knock out stages

Evie Edwards (Elmsett, Suffolk)
Edwards started every match with Stephen McGuire at the 2015 European Team and Pair Championships and came away with a Silver medal. Edwards is making terrific progress and with a ranking of 39 none of the higher seeds would be pleased to be facing her at the pool stage
 

Smith and Thomas named as IPC 'Ones to Watch' for Rio

The International Paralympic Committee have named eight athletes to watch out for at Rio. Two British athletes were on the list, BC3 World Number 1 Jacob Thomas and BC1 World Number 2 David Smith.

The IPC biographies are as follows:

Jacob Thomas

Thomas started 2016 as the world No. 1 in the BC3 class and will be hoping to perform better at Rio 2016 than he did on his Paralympic debut at London 2012, where he made the last 16.
The Welsh born athlete started playing boccia whilst as primary school and became the Welsh and British champion in 2010.
At his first individual competition at a major international event, the 2011 World Cup in Belfast, Great Britain, he finished fifth and also finished sixth in the Pairs competition.
In 2013, he won bronze in the pairs event at the European Championships and at the 2014 World Championships in Beijing, China, he won bronze in the individual event. He lost in the semi-finals to eventual champion Hansoo Kim of South Korea.
His best individual performance in 2015 was at the Boccia World Open in Poznan, Poland, where he won silver.

David Smith

London 2012 silver medallist Smith will be hoping to go one step further at Rio 2016 and, after winning multiple titles in the last four years, few would doubt him.
He lost out on gold at his home Paralympics in London to Thailand’s Pattaya Tadtong in the individual event. He also took bronze in the team BC1-BC2 event.
A year later, he won the European title by defeating Greece’s Panagiotis Soulanis in the gold medal match.
In 2014, he added the world title in Beijing, China. In the semi-final he edged past the Netherlands’ Daniel Perez 4-2 before defeating Thailand’s Witsanu Huadpradit 9-2 to land gold.
He finished 2015 ranked second in the world behind Perez.
Rio 2016 will be Smith’s third Paralympics. He made his Paralympic debut at Beijing 2008, winning gold in the team BC1/BC2 event.

You can see all the ones to watch on the IPC website here

Results of 2015 GB Boccia Championships

The 2015 GB Boccia Championships were held on Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th December at Edinburgh Napier University.

BC1
1. David Smith (ENG)
2. Reegan Stevenson (SCO)
3. Jabe Peake (ENG)

David Smith reatined his title despite missing a call room in the pool stage. He went through second in his group and beat young challenger and eventual third placed finisher Jabe Peake in the semi final before comfortably beating Scotland's Reegan Stevenson in the final.

BC2
1. Martin Davis (WAL)
2. Claire Taggart (NI)
3. Lucy Rutledge (SCO)

Wales's Martin Davis won out in a close BC2 final against Northern Ireland's Claire Taggart, both players boasting an unbeaten record before the game. Lucy Rutledge from Scotland won bronze having squeezed out GB player Josh Rowe in the pool stage.

BC3
1. Patrick Wilson (SCO)
2. Jacob Thomas (WAL)
3. Scott McCowan (SCO)

Patrick Wilson of Scotland won his maiden GB crown with a convincing win over World Number 1 Jacob Thomas in the BC3 final. It was a much closer affair in his semi final against fellow Scot Scott McCowan with the match coming down to the last ball. McCowan won bronze after coming from behind to take a strong victory against England's National Champion Rich Amos.

BC4
1. Stephen McGuire (SCO)
2. Jamie Docherty (SCO)
3. Evie Edwards (ENG)

Stephen McGuire won an all Scottish final against Jamie Docherty to pick up another British title. Docherty fought back well from a 5-0 decifit in the first end but could not quite do enough as the match finished 6-5. Birthday girl Evie Edwards capped a great tournament with victory in the Bronze medal game over Scotland's Kieran Steer.

GB Boccia would like to thank Scottish Disability Sport and Boccia England for their support in the hosting and organisation of the event.

The next GB Boccia Championships will take place on July 23rd/24th 2016 at Surrey Sports Park in Guildford and will be the last opportunity for the players who will be representing ParalympicsGB to play some competitive Boccia before they head off to Rio.

Claire Taggart blog from the Test Event

BC2 athlete Claire Taggart wrote a blog of her experiences at the Test Event. Read what she has to say below and follow her blog here to find out about her love of tortoises and Snow Patrol

"Recently I traveled with team mates, Nigel Murray and David Smith to participate in a Paralympic test event in the run up to the Rio 2016 Paralympics. Here is a day by day account of how we got on:

Day 1

This morning I left the house at 4am to get the first flight to Heathrow, ahead of our transfer to Rio at 12pm. I was tired but excited for the day ahead. Once arriving at Heathrow I got a sandwich and waited for the boys to clear security so I could meet them. Once through we all did some shopping before heading to the gate. We got on the plane and planned what we would do for the next 12 hours. I planned to sleep for a while, watch movies and read. I did all three, watching Pitch Perfect 2, Spy, Miranda, and many others. The food on the plane was great and every few hours there was more food brought around. Once we got off the plane there were cameras everywhere, flashing and people with iPhones taking our photos. Apparently this was to test out how it would be in Rio 2016. Still it was a bit daunting after just getting off a 12 hour flight. Once we got outside the heat was overwhelming, it was so hot and sticky. We packed up into the minibuses that were waiting and headed to the hotel. It was now about 11:30pm UK time. The journey to the hotel took about 30 minutes and once we got there the cool relief of air conditioning was amazing. I went straight to bed as we had an early start the next morning.

Day 2

Woke up around 7:30 to head to breakfast for 8:30. We had a training session at 9:30-11am before equipment check at 11:20. This morning we worked on getting used to the floor and the lights etc. It was very warm and humid but the floor was of good quality and we all passed equipment check with no problems. We had lunch at a nearby cafe area and then had our second training session at 3-5pm. We then headed back to the hotel for dinner, as there was a rooftop pool I seized the opportunity to get my feet wet and sat on the pool side for half an hour whilst working on my tan. We then went for dinner and then off to bed, as our schedule the next day was jam packed.

Day 3

We went for breakfast early and headed over to the competition courts to warm up ready for our first game of the day. I was very nervous as this was the first game that I had started. We played Russia first, then Portugal then Brazil. We beat Russia 9-2, then went on to beat Portugal 7-3. We lost to Brazil in the final 5-4, although we lost we came back from 5-0 down and won 4/6 ends. It meant we finished with an team silver and ready for the individual competition to start tomorrow.

Day 4

Today was the start of the individual competition. I had 4 matches today and it was a long but successful day. The morning started at 10am by playing the world No 1 Maciel Santos, although I lost I made him play and kept it tight for the first few ends. I then went on to play Fernando from Portugal and lost 7-3, even after being 3-0 up after the first 2 ends. I kicked myself about this for a while but then had to go straight back into the call room to play Kozmin from Russia. Finally I got a win of 6-1 and I felt like I could actually compete at this level. My final match of the day was against Levi of Israel. I lost but played well plus gained myself my first violation! I played a good shot and reversed into the back of my box, but knocked my water bottle over! I knew if I threw a ball it would be a 2 ball violation to Levi, but I only had 45 seconds to throw three balls! I threw it and the ref grabbed it and awarded the violation. As I had still 2 balls to play I delivered them and promptly put both on top of the head! Nada Levi being the gentleman he is, threw the violation balls away as he was already 8/1 up. Although I didn't make it out of my pool, I was happy with the way I played and performed as an individual.

Day 5

Today Nigel and Smithy had individual matches starting at 10am but as I didn't get out of my pool it meant I could have a lie in and then be up in time to go watch their matches. It was good to be there for morale support for both of them, to see Nigel unfortunately lose at tie break and to see Smithy go on to win the gold. After this we had the medal ceremony. Bearing in mind it was at least 30 degrees and we then had to put on presentation jackets. I was hoping for the worlds quickest presentation to get the jackets off again. It was short and sweet and we watched Smithy get his gold before heading back to the hotel. I had some spare time so I put my feet in the pool for some physio before dinner. The plan was to stay on the side of the pool but that was not Smithy and Nigel's idea! We had dinner and then sat outside by the pool chatting and looking at the stars, great night + a few insect bites!

Day 6

Home Day! Our flight wasn't until midnight so we planned to laze about in the morning before going to a shopping centre nearby to kill some time before heading to the airport. Smithy and I had a swim in the pool with Dawn (physio) and Claire (coach), it was awesome as it was so warm. We then headed to the shopping centre to find that barely any of the shops were open. It was weird, we got some lunch at Subway and shops started to open but we could only stay for a short time after that so there was no real time to have a look. When we came back to the hotel, I went and got out of my wheelchair for a few hours as I would be sitting in it and the plane seat all night.

We headed to the airport at 8pm and it was the most depressing and disappointing airport ever. Not to mention it felt like 100 degrees, it was boiling. There was very few places to eat and one shop, they will need to address this prior to the Paralympics next year. We got on our flight and I slept the entire way home, I woke up 2 hours prior to landing so I watched some Fawlty Towers and listened to my iPod. We caught our second flight home to Belfast and were home for 6:30pm.

A long week but a worthwhile week!"

GB Boccia win medals at Test Event in Rio

GB Boccia took three players to Rio for the official Test Event for the Paralympic Games and came back with two medals, a BC1 Individual Gold for David Smith and a Silver in the BC1/BC2 Team.

Smith came through the competition unbeaten in individual competition, justifying his position as the top ranked BC1 athlete. His only test came in the pool stages as he needed a tie break to beat Portugal's Antonio Marques after the match finished 3-3. However the two met again in the final where Smith showed his class to prevail 6-0 having beaten fellow Portguese Joao Paulo Fernando in the semi.

Nigel Murray and Claire Taggart competed in the individual BC2 event but neither made it out of their respective pools.

Murray thumped Russia's Sathatskiy and Brazil's Rodrigues both 11-1 but was on the receiving end of a 10-0 from Araujo. A tie break defeat from Portugal's Valente following a 5-5 meant Murray couldn't make the semi-final.

Taggart performed commendably in defeats to quality oppsition including World Number 1 Maciel dos Santos of Brazil and recorded a deserved victory 6-1 against Russia's Kozmin.

The three came together in the Team event and comfortbaly beat Russia 9-2 and old foes Portugal 7-3 before narrowly losing to hosts Brazil 5-4 to take the Silver medal.

The experience will stand the athletes in good stead as they continue their preparations for their return to Rio for the Paralympic Games in September next year.

GB qualify for Rio with BC1/BC2 Team Gold at the Europeans

Months of training have paid off for Great Britain, Belgium and Slovakia as they qualify for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games after winning at the 2015 Boccia European Team and Pairs Championships.

Hosted at Surrey Sports Park as part of UK Sport's National Lottery #EveryRoadtoRio programme, 14 countries competed over the weekend (July 25th and 26th) in BC1/BC2 Team, BC3 Pairs and BC4 Pairs events.

The first day of competition in the pool games bought great matches and drama in equal measure. Great Britain made it comfortably through to the semi-finals in the BC1/BC2 Team and BC4 Pairs events, but it was a surprise exit for the British world number ones and third seed Portugal in the BC3 Pairs.

In the semi-finals of the BC1/BC2 Team competition, it was familiar territory for Great Britain as they took on Portugal, having played them in the final of the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games and the bronze medal match at London 2012 Paralympic Games. After a strong performance throughout, Great Britain booked their place in the final with an 11-4 victory. In the other semi-final match, Slovakia overcame Spain to win 8-2.

In a tense first half of the final match the two teams were tied at 1-1 going into end three. By the final end, David Smith, Nigel Murray and Joshua Rowe of Great Britain had fought their way to a 5-2 lead, taking full advantage of a Slovakian violation to win three points on one end. Great Britain played a defensive final end, winning the match 5-4. In the Bronze medal match Portugal were the dominant team, beating Spain 10-3.

David Smith, captain of Great Britain's BC1/BC2 Team said: "We've been building up to this all year; our main goal was to win and take the qualification spot. Now we've got that our focus will shift to working towards winning Gold in Rio. There's a great camaraderie in the team, we're all working towards the same goal of being the best in the world and creating a legacy for GB Boccia."

In the BC3 Pairs, Spain took on Belgium in the final after closely contested semi final matches against France and Greece respectively. Belgium were a commanding force, becoming European Champions with a 7-1 victory. In the Bronze medal match, World number 4 side Greece narrowly triumphed over the surprise package of the competition France 4-2.

Evie Edwards and Stephen McGuire of Great Britain stormed into the BC4 Pairs final following their 10-0 win against Russia. They met Slovakia in the final - and for the second time in the championship having beaten them at the pool stage - who grabbed a spot in the final after a winning 5-3 performance against Hungary.

The two teams gave the crowd a thrilling final taking it all the way to a deciding last end; it was Slovakia who took the match by one point 4-3 with the decisive shot by World number 2 Samuel Andrecijk taking the game out of GB’s reach. In the Bronze medal match, Russia and Hungary took it to a tiebreaker, with Hungary holding their nerve to take the win.

Matt Hammond, Performance Director at GB Boccia said: "It's great to have two teams heading to Rio with the BC1/BC2 Team directly qualifying and, by our estimations, the BC4 Pairs having enough ranking points to qualify. Going forward we'll be working with the players ahead of the World Individual Championships in Beijing next year and maximising opportunities for the BC3 Pairs to get to Rio as they are great players."

John Dowson, Chair of GB Boccia said: "The Championships has been an enormous success, running without a hitch and receiving positive feedback from the visiting European teams. We've also seen a bigger media impact than previous competitions with live streaming and ongoing social media activity widening our reach. It's been a real team effort between UK Sport, GB Boccia, Boccia England and the University of Surrey to run the event and it has really showcased the UK and GB Boccia as hosts."

Live streaming schedule

The opening ceremony tonight will be on live streaming from 17:30.

https://www.youtube.com/user/GBBoccia

The games tomorrow (Saturday 25th) that will be streamed are as follows:

10:00 BC1/BC2 Team - Great Britain v Israel
11:45 BC4 Pair - Great Britain v Croatia
13:00 BC3 Pair - Great Britain v Sweden
14:45 BC4 Pair - Great Britain v Slovakia
16:00 BC1/BC2 Team - Slovakia v Portugal

With plenty of opportunities to watch GB we hope you can electronically cheer us on!

Live streaming at European Team and Pairs Championships

Surrey Sports Park is looking ready for the European Team and Pairs Championships this weekend!

There will be live streaming on the GB Boccia YouTube channel on both competition days.

https://www.youtube.com/user/GBBoccia

There will be commentary from Paul Coleman with expert analysis from Jamie McCowan and Jamie Docherty.

Once the competition draw has been made on Friday a full schedule of matches to be screened will be available on the competition website.

http://www.2015bocciaeuropean.com/

The Pool games on Saturday will start at the following times:

10:00 (BC1/BC2 Team or BC3 Pair)
11:45 (BC4 Pair)
13:00 (BC1/BC2 Team or BC3 Pair)
14:45 (BC4 Pair)
16:00 (BC1/BC2 Team or BC3 Pair)
17:45 (BC4 Pair)

On Sunday the Semi-finals start at 10:00 and the finals commence at 14:00.

Happy viewing!

GB name squad for European Team and Pairs Championships

From L to R, Kieran Steer, Stephen McGuire, Evie Edwards, Nigel Murray, David Smith, Claire Taggart, Josh Rowe

From L to R, Kieran Steer, Stephen McGuire, Evie Edwards, Nigel Murray, David Smith, Claire Taggart, Josh Rowe

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/BC2 Team

  • 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 Pair

  • BC3 Jacob Thomas (Pembrokeshire, Wales)
  • BC3 Scott McCowan (South Ayrshire, Scotland)
  • BC3 Patrick Wilson (Edinburgh)

BC4 Pair

  • 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.

Nigel Murray is IPC Athlete of the Month for April

Nigel Murray’s strong performance at the 2015 Boccia European Continental Cup helped him garner enough votes to be named April’s Allianz Athlete of the Month.

At the Continental Cup in Spain, the British athlete captured two gold medals after winning all 11 of his matches. Murray helped Great Britain defeat Spain 10-1 in the final to capture the BC1/BC2 Team medal, cementing the British as No. 1 in the world in the category. He also went on to win gold in the event’s BC2 individual side.

Following those performances, Murray, who won gold in the Sydney 2000 Paralympics, showed signs of returning to form for Rio 2016.

Murray received 34 per cent of public votes. It was a tight race for second between South Africa’s T13 sprinter Ilse Hayes (24 per cent), who became the world’s fastest Paralympic female, and Mexico’s record-setting 61kg powerlifter Amalia Perez (24 per cent).

GB dominate European Continental Cup

Great Britain won four of the seven events at the 2015 Boccia European Continental Cup, held in Barcelona between the 1st and 5th of April.

The competition was the first of the 2015 season and featured the top ranked countries in Europe.

The BC1/BC2 Team of David Smith, Nigel Murray, Joshua Rowe and newcomer Claire Taggart were never troubled as they marched to the final where they triumphed 10-1 over Spain to cement their status as World number ones.

The medals also flowed in the individual events. The BC2 final was an all GB affair as Nigel Murray overcame Joshua Rowe 4-1 to win Gold. Murray was in imperious form winning seven straight matches to clinch the title. Rowe had lost to Portugal’s Cristina Goncalves in his pool but two 11-0 victories meant he qualified top. He met Goncalves again in the semi-final where he prevailed after a tie break. Claire Taggart of Northern Ireland did brilliantly to make it through her pool on her international debut but she lost to Abilio Valente of Portugal, the 2011 World Cup winner in the last 16. World Champion David Smith cruised through his pool in the BC1 event but was tripped up in the semi-final by eventual winner Panagiotis Soulanis of Greece. Smith recovered to take bronze from Russia’s Mikhail Gutnik.

The BC3 Pair of Jacob Thomas, Scott McCowan and Jess Hunter also went into the event World ranked number one. However a surprise loss in the semi-final to the Czech Republic and defeat to Portugal in the Bronze match meant they finished outside the medals.

Wales’s Jacob Thomas more than made up for it in the individual BC3 competition, winning his pool without dropping a point. He got the better of Paralympic silver medallist Jose Macedo of Portugal in the quarter final before brushing aside Belgium’s Peter Cilissen in the semi. He met Armando Costa of Portugal in the final and took the Gold with a 5-2 victory to cap a fantastic competition. Scott McCowan of Scotland also came through his pool with ease but came up against the World number 2 Grigorios Polychronidis in the last 16 and lost out 4-1 in a tense game. Jess Hunter was in Polychronidis’s group and failed to come through, winning one game but losing two.

The BC4 Pair of Stephen McGuire, Kieran Steer and Evie Edwards fell at the last hurdle after a tie break defeat by Slovakia in the final after the match finished 4-4. They had beaten Spain and Russia twice to get to the final but had to be content with the Silver medal.

Kieran Steer (pictured) went one better in the BC4 Individual competition to win Gold. The World number 19 defied his ranking and topped his pool. He met GB’s Evie Edwards in the quarter final. Edwards had produced one of the upsets of the tournament in winning her pool, toppling World number two Samuel Andrejcik 7-0. Steer won a tight game 5-3 before beating Hungary’s Laszlo Hegedus by the same score in the semi-final. It was GB versus Slovakia again in the final but Steer beat Robert Durkovic 5-2 to claim Gold. Stephen McGuire was beaten by eventual Bronze medallist Domingos Vieira of Portugal.

GB topped the medal table by some margin and will be looking to take that form into the World Open in Poland in June before the prize of direct qualification to Rio awaits in July at the European Team and Pair Championships to be held in Guildford on the 25th and 26th of July.

GB Squad

BC1 David Smith (Eastleigh, England living in Swansea, Wales)
BC2 Nigel Murray MBE (Leamington Spa, England
BC2 Joshua Rowe (Perth, Scotland)
BC2 Claire Taggart (Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland)
BC3 Jacob Thomas (Pembrokeshire, Wales)
BC3 Scott McCowan (Ayrshire, Scotland)
BC3 Jess Hunter (Staines, England)
BC4 Kieran Steer (Fife, Scotland)
BC4 Stephen McGuire (Hamilton, Scotland)
BC4 Evie Edwards (Suffolk, England)

GB Medal winners

Gold

BC1/BC2 Team – David Smith, Nigel Murray MBE, Joshua Rowe, Claire Taggart
BC2 Individual – Nigel Murray MBE
BC3 Individual – Jacob Thomas
BC4 Individual – Kieran Steer

Silver

BC2 Individual – Joshua Rowe
BC4 Pair – Stephen McGuire, Kieran Steer, Evie Edwards

Bronze

BC1 Individual – David Smith