With thanks to Channel 4 for video content
Great Britain's Boccia team put in an outstanding performance in Beijing, bringing home a gold in the BC1/BC2 Team event and a silver in the Individual BC2. Since Beijing, the British team has maintained its reputation as a leading nation in Boccia.
At the 2009 European Championships the team won two gold medals, a silver and a bronze. David Smith won gold in the Individual BC1 event and Nigel Murray won bronze in the Individual BC2 event. The duo then teamed up with Zoe Robinson, Dan Bentley and Andrew Morgan to win silver in the BC1/BC2 Team event. Meanwhile brothers Stephen and Peter McGuire and Jamie Kelly won GB’s second gold in the Pairs BC4. Sadly, Jamie passed away in 2011 at the age of 17.
At the 2010 World Championships, Nigel Murray went one better than at the Europeans to win silver in Individual BC2, while Stephen McGuire secured silver in Individual BC4 and then joined Peter to win the same colour in Pairs BC4.
The 2011 World Cup in Belfast saw the BC1/BC2 Team pick up a bronze while Nigel Murray kept up his record of medalling in every Individual BC2 event since Beijing with silver, thus retaining his World No.1 ranking. The BC3s had their best performance for many years with the Pair finishing sixth and Jacob Thomas coming fifth on his major championship debut.
The final qualification event for London 2012, the 2011 Europa Cup, saw David Smith and Dan Bentley win Individual BC1 and BC2 golds respectively. Stephen McGuire won BC4 silver with brother Peter picking up the bronze.
At the London Prepares Test Event in May 2012, British athletes won five medals: gold for David Smith in Individual BC1, gold for Nigel Murray in Individual BC2, gold for Jacob Thomas and Jess Hunter in BC3 Pairs, bronze for Jacob Thomas in Individual BC3 and bronze for Team BC1/BC2.
GB Boccia has also invested in talent identification and development, with the result that several athletes have been fast-tracked onto the GB squad. Both Jess Hunter and Jacob Thomas were identified through a systematic talent programme and successfully made it on to the team for London 2012.
At the London 2012 Paralympics the bar was lifted yet again on the standard of competition. The BC1/2 Team of Nigel Murray, Zoe Robinson, Dan Bentley and David Smith set out to defend their Paralympic title but had to settle for the bronze medal after a tough battle in the semi-final that sent them into the bronze match against Portugal. In the BC4 Pairs, brothers Stephen and Peter McGuire narrowly missed out on the medals, losing their bronze match against Canada. David Smith went on to secure another medal, this time silver, in his Individual BC1 event while Stephen McGuire narrowly missed out again in the Individual BC4 bronze medal match.
- First year at a Paralympic Games:
- New York 1984
- Brief history:
- Boccia is derived from the ancient Italian game ‘bocce’ and was adapted for disabled athletes in Sweden in the 1970s. It was introduced to the UK shortly after where it was developed further into the sport we know today.
- Eligible impairment groups:
- Athletes with quadriplegia, cerebral palsy and other conditions with functional impairment in all four limbs
- London medal table:
1 - Brazil (three gold, one bronze)
2 - Thailand (two gold)
3 - Korea (one gold, one silver, one bronze)
4 - Great Britain (one silver, one bronze)
- GB medals in London:
David Smith, silver, Individual BC1
Nigel Murray, Dan Bentley, David Smith, Zoe Robinson, bronze, BC1/BC2 Team
- Did you know:
- Boccia is one of only three Paralympic-specific sports. Along with Wheelchair Rugby and Goalball, it has no Olympic counterpart.
- London 2012 venue:
- Rio 2016 venue:
- Rio Olympic Park (Barra Zone)
The idea of the game is simple. One side has six red balls and the other six blue balls. The aim is to get your balls closer to the white target ball, the 'jack', than your opponent.
To start an end, one side will throw the jack. They will then throw their first ball trying to get it as close as possible. The other side then attempts to throw their ball closer. After that, the side whose ball is not closest to the jack throws the next ball. Once all balls have been played, points are awarded. The side that is closest to the jack receives a point for every ball they have nearer than their opponent’s closest ball.
A match consists of a set number of ends, four in Individual and Pairs events and six in the Team game. Once all ends have been played the side with the highest score is the winner.
Boccia is played indoor on a court similar in size to badminton. Players are positioned at one end in throwing boxes and can throw the jack anywhere on court over the ‘V’ line.
The balls are made of leather and are filled with plastic granules so they do not bounce and are easy to grip.
Played by athletes with a high level of impairment resulting from Cerebral Palsy or other conditions affecting motor skills, the sport is a test of muscle control and accuracy, demanding extreme skill and concentration at the highest level.
All athletes have an impairment that affects all four of their limbs. The majority of players use an electric wheelchair for mobility.
There are four classifications and all events are mixed.
The BC1 class is for players who have Cerebral Palsy. Athletes will have difficulty gripping the ball. As a result they are permitted to have an assistant on court to pass them the ball before they throw. BC1 athletes are allowed to use their hands or feet to play the ball. Most athletes throw the ball but a small number kick the ball into play.
The BC2 class is also for players who have Cerebral Palsy. BC2 players are more able than BC1 players to grip and release the ball. As a result they are not permitted an assistant on court and must throw the ball onto court.
There are three events for BC1 and BC2 players: the Individual BC1 event, the Individual BC2 event and the BC1/BC2 Team event which is three aside – a minimum of one BC1 player per side must be on court at all times.
The BC3 class is for players with either Cerebral Palsy or other conditions and was added to the Games in 1996. BC3 players have the highest level of impairment. They are unable to throw or kick the ball consistently into play and therefore play using an assistive device, also known as a ramp. The athlete has an assistant on court that faces away from play and is not allowed to turn around for the duration of the end. The assistant positions the ramp under instruction from the player and places the ball on the ramp for the player to release. There are two BC3 events: an Individual and a Pairs event. In the Pairs event, at least one player with Cerebral Palsy must be on court at all times.
The BC4 class is for players who do not have Cerebral Palsy and was first included in the Paralympic Games in 2004. BC4 players have similar functional ability to BC2 players so have difficulty gripping and releasing the ball but can throw it consistently into play. There are two BC4 events: an Individual and a Pairs event.