Smith confident future is positive for Britain’s boccia talent
Part of a squad currently brimming with talent and potential, two-time Paralympic champion David Smith believes the future is bright for Britain’s boccia players.
Smith is the joint-most successful boccia player in British history, picking up individual BC1 gold in Rio 2016 to add to his winning performance from Beijing eight years previous in the Team BC1-2.
And while he was the sole member of the team to win a medal at the Paralympic Games last summer, the 28-year-old is confident that he will be far from the last in the coming years.
Smith and his team-mates are already looking as many as seven years into the future - a time when he believes the raw talent in the squad can be shaped into Paralympic medallists in Paris, even if he may not still be competing then.
“The medal group we have at the moment is really strong, Jamie McCowan and Paddy Wilson in the BC3 Pair are two young players who, by Tokyo 2020, will be battle-hardened, and as individuals or pairs they are very capable of getting medals,” he said.
“Equally in the fours, you’ve got Stephen McGuire who knows the games inside out, he’ll have a chance to do something he’s never quite done before in the Paralympic Games, so a bit more oomph can put him in with a shout.
“We’re a young team, we’re seeing where we’re going and our aim is mostly 2024 and the Paralympic Games." David Smith
“We want to hit the ground running when it comes to that cycle in terms of ranking, as a young team we want them to improve steadily but if we nick a medal in Tokyo that would be a bonus.”
Once again world No.1 Smith is seemingly in the form of his life, taking the BC1 title in the Boccia World Open in Seville last weekend.
But his action doesn’t stop there with the UK Championships heading to Liverpool, the same location in which next year’s World Championships will be held – a competition Smith is very much targeting.
But for Smith, the youngest player to ever win the British event when just 14, this competition is about more than just the prizes on offer.
Instead he is hopeful of inspiring a new wave of boccia players, at whatever stage of their career, as the next Paralympic cycle hits its stride towards Tokyo 2020.
He added: “Some of the guys haven’t been in too many international competitions, but if we can turn some of these close defeats from Seville into wins, we know what we can achieve and our aim is the European Championships in November in Portugal.
“That’s our next target, with decent ranking points we feel we have a chance, and we feel quite even with a lot of the teams around us, the Dutch and the Portuguese for example.
“We’re a team with ten gears, and it’s hard to know which one will come on court, it’s a little bit inconsistent but we know there is huge potential there.”