Great Britain’s Stephen McGuire kicks off the action at the BISFed 2018 World Boccia Championships tomorrow (Sunday) at Exhibition Centre Liverpool.
All players start their individual campaigns tomorrow. The event is the second most important event in the calendar outside of the Paralympic Games and McGuire, defending champion and BC4 World number one from Hamilton, Scotland will draw on confidence after a superb season.
Recent highlights include two gold medals at the BISFed Montreal World Boccia Open. The Scot is also hoping to draw on home advantage as half his family live in the city. He opens against Kevin Stokes of USA.
Meanwhile, BC3 World No.1 Greg Polychronidis will be looking to make amends for disappointment in 2016 when he left his pointer in the call room ahead of his quarter final match. Assisted by wife Katerina, he goes up against Wing Tung Liu of Hong Kong.
Thailand has brought a fierce contingent to Liverpool. Four of their players boast top three rankings and the BC2 category may well see a showdown between World No 1 and reigning Paralympic champion Watcharaphon Vongsa and No. 3 defending World Champion Worawut Saengampa. Players from the same nation will often meet each other in the first round but as the pair enter as top seeds, they avoid each other at this early stage.
Britain’s David Smith MBE will of course be wanting to delight home crowds. The Paralympic gold medallist faces Sungjoon Jung of Korea.
At this evening’s opening ceremony, John Dowson, Chair of Boccia UK, explained:
“We have had an amazing response from the teams and it hasn’t even started yet! When we started on this journey, we wanted to create an event worthy of the sport. We are here to put on that show and to provide the best environment in which to compete.”
While David Hadfield, Chair of BISFed, was full of praise for Boccia UK and the organising committee:
“In terms of numbers of athletes competing, this event is bigger than the Paralympic Games for boccia. I want to thank Boccia UK who won the bid to host this event. There are a number of things happening for the very first time in the sport – we have a show court, aerial cameras, theatrical lighting. This World Championships is taking the sport to a whole new level.”
The BISFed 2018 World Boccia Championships has been made possible thanks to UK Sport’s National Lottery funding through its Major Events Programme.
The main court will be live from Sunday 12 August from 09:00-19:00 BST to Saturday 18 August from 10:30-18:00 BST on the BBC Sport website, Sport app & connected TV.
Remember to visit the event website at https://www.bisfed2018worldboccia.com/news/
Article written by Jane Thomas
Photograph credit sportingwales