The five boccia players to represent ParalympicsGB in the Paris Games this summer have been announced and a strong English contingent will be heading across the Channel to compete for medals.

The line-up sees three-time Paralympic Champion David Smith aiming to add to his current tally of five medals from four games.

 

Speaking of his selection, he said, “I’m really excited for my fifth Paralympic Games and it will be great to play in front of a crowd again, after the Tokyo Games was limited by Covid. While I do love playing individually, the team event has always been a strong passion of mine. The team medal was my first at a Paralympics, so it’s kind of where I learned my craft. Our team then went into a bit of a transition, so it’s always been my ambition to return us to where we were.”

 

Smith is joined in the team by English debutants, Will Arnott and teenager Sally Kidson in the GB squad. They will line up in the BC3 Pairs event having won gold at the qualifying event in Japan earlier this year.

 

Kidson – who is supported by ramp assistant Hannah Stewart - is the youngest athlete in the boccia line-up. 2023 was a breakout year for the young star from Salisbury, beating the likes of World champion Ana Costa and European champion Sonia Heckel.

 

The 19-year-old said: “I’m absolutely over the moon to have been selected to represent ParalympicsGB. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am grateful beyond words to be a part of such an incredible group of people. It’s been a crazy journey so far, filled with challenges, triumphs and many, many hours of hard work, but I can’t wait to see what lies ahead.”

 

Arnott, 25, is supported by ramp assistant Connor Wellfare and they both live in Reading. Together, they secured a silver medal at the 2023 Para European Championships.

Arnott said: “I am so proud to be part of this squad. It feels as if the hard work that goes on in the background is starting to pay off and I’m thrilled to make my Paralympic debut in Paris. For me and my assistant, Connor, it really is a dream come true.”

 

The players confirmed within the Boccia squad are:-

David Smith - BC1, Claire Taggart - BC2, Kayleigh Haggo - BC3, Will Arnott - BC4 and Sally Kidson - BC3.

Boccia England Chief Executive Officer, Chris Ratcliffe, said, “We offer our congratulations to everyone selected to compete for Paralympics GB in Paris. We are particularly proud of our English athletes and we will be joining with the boccia community across the country in cheering the whole team on.

 

“The success of young athletes like Sally Kidson shows the opportunities that are available to people to succeed in the sport of boccia. The Paralympic Games offers us a great chance for the sport to be seen on television and online. We hope that many more people will see the opportunities that the sport offers to play, meet people and to excel in the most inclusive of environments.”

 

Anyone interested in getting involved in boccia across England can visit our website (Boccia England) to find ideas of how to play at home and about local clubs and groups. Alternatively, please email [email protected] or call 0115 9678455.