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Smith headlines nine-strong GB team flying the flag at boccia European Championships

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3 weeks ago

The boccia European Championships get underway in Portugal this week with a nine-strong Great Britain team eager to be among the medals on the continental stage.

Headlining the squad is two-time Paralympic champion David Smith, who will be looking to add to his already impressive haul of silverware.

Great Britain finished with three medals at last month’s BISFed World Open Kansas – gold for Smith and Stephen McGuire while Jamie McCowan won silver – and will be hoping their fine form can continue, particularly with next year’s World Championships in Liverpool on the horizon.

The history

The boccia European Championships will be held in Povoa de Varzim – venue for many previous international competitions including the European Championships of 2009.

At the 2015 European Teams and Pairs Championships in Guildford, Smith captained Great Britain to BC1/BC2 gold, while Evie Edwards and Stephen McGuire won BC4 Pairs silver.

Smith is no stranger to success on the European stage, having also won gold at the 2009 and 2013 championships in Porto.

The rules

Boccia is played competitively at national and international level by athletes who require a wheelchair because of their disability.

Originally played by athletes with cerebral palsy, the sport now features athletes with other disabilities which affect motor skills.

Boccia competitions consist of pool rounds followed by elimination rounds, with pool rounds based of 3-7 sides who all play each other once – an agreed number of sides progress to the elimination rounds.

For competition purposes, athletes are classified according to their disability into one of four classifications:

BC1 – players in this class throw the ball with the hand or foot. They may compete with an assistant who stays outside of the competitor's playing box to stabilise or adjust their playing chair and give the ball to the player.

BC2 – players in this class throw the ball with the hand. They are not eligible for assistance.

BC3 - players in this class have very severe locomotor dysfunction in all four extremities. Players in this class have no sustained grasp or release action. They may use an assistive device such as a ramp to deliver the ball, and they may compete with an assistant.

BC4 - Players in this class have severe locomotor dysfunction of all four extremities as well as poor trunk control. They can demonstrate sufficient dexterity to throw the ball onto the court. Players are not eligible for assistance.

The schedule

The Boccia European Championships will run from Saturday 28th October to Wednesday 1st November.

The pairs and teams competitions will take place on the first two days followed by the individual events from Monday through to Wednesday.

The full schedule can be viewed here.

The squad

David Smith
World ranking: 1
BC1 individuals

Claire Taggart
World ranking: 40
BC2 individuals

Will Hipwell
World ranking: 100
BC2 individuals

Patrick Wilson
World ranking: 6
BC3 individuals

Jamie McCowan
World ranking: 12
BC3 individuals

Scott McCowan
World ranking: 24
BC3 individuals

Stephen McGuire
World ranking: 5
BC4 individuals

Evie Edwards
World ranking: 25
BC4 individuals

Louis Saunders
BC4 individuals – draw

Great Britain will also enter teams in the BC3 pairs, BC4 pairs and BC1/BC2 pairs,

How to follow

A live stream of the action will be available here, while daily wraps of the action will be posted on the ParalympicsGB website.

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