As Boccia UK’s medal campaign came to an end at the quarter final stages of the BISFed 2018 World Boccia Championships, the young British squad now look ahead to Tokyo 2020.

Earlier in the week, Britain’s Paralympic gold medallist David Smith MBE (Swansea/ Eastleigh) added the World individual title to his ever-expanding collection of accolades. Leaving the podium, he was back in action the next day with the BC1/BC2 team of Claire Taggart (Northern Ireland) and Will Hipwell (Cambridgeshire) but the trio were desperately unlucky not to make it through to the quarter finals after a fantastic comeback victory over Columbia.

The British BC3 and BC4 teams both made it through to the knock out stages. But both pairs faced tough opposition in the face of World number ones Slovakia and then Greece.

Stephen McGuire (Scotland), joined on court by Evie Edwards (Ipswich) and Louis Saunders (Bognor Regis), said:

“That match was always going to be a battle. We’re world number two and Slovakia are world no 1. We only met in quarters because they didn’t win their pool. I want to credit everybody who played in that match – the quality was high, the passion was there and the crowd were amazing. We now need to focus our attention on qualifying for Tokyo and giving ourselves best opportunity. I believe we’ll be ready.  “I’m disappointed to be on the wrong side of it but extremely proud of my young team.”

So young, in fact, that Saunders, who has put in solid performances in Liverpool, receives his GCSE results next week. A year ago, he had not even played an international match: “It’s been a bit of a whirlwind,” It’s been great to be part of this team and here in Liverpool, It’s really good experience looking ahead to Tokyo.”

A disappointed BC3 team of Jess Hunter (Staines), Jamie McCowan (South Ayrshire and Patrick Wilson (Edinburgh) lost to Greece 4-1:
“Too many shots went awry in that game,” said McCowan. “We made some misjudgements and didn’t quite find the line on the floor, especially in the lay ups.”

BC3s Captain Patrick Wilson said: “We did everything possible to win that game. In the end, they were just that bit better than us. I think we’ve shown what we can do when we play at our best so now we need to do that more consistently as we look ahead to Tokyo.”

Helen Nicholls, Performance Director of Boccia UK, was upbeat:

“Overall as a squad we demonstrated our ability to compete in the top three in the world across all classifications but the significant challenge with international boccia is delivering ability when it really counts. The next two years will be focussed on ensuring that we are in position to be ready to deliver our best performance on the bigger stages; the holy grail of being an elite athlete. From my perspective, one of the fantastic things about this week is witnessing the high standard of boccia across all classifications. The sport globally is in a really healthy position.”