29 August 2021

Smith and Scott McCowan come through must-win matches to reach boccia quarter-finals

Reigning champion David Smith knows it’s all about results from here but that didn’t stop him putting in a dominant performance to reach the boccia individual BC1 quarter-finals in style.

With two wins and one defeat on his ledger heading into Monday, Smith faced a must-win clash with home favourite Takumi Nakamura to seal a last-eight spot in Tokyo.

If the four-time Paralympic medallist felt any nerves, he didn’t show them, as he raced into an 11-0 lead through three ends and ended an 11-1 victor to top Pool A – setting up a quarter-final with Witsanu Huadpradit of Thailand on Tuesday.

Two Brits made it through to the individual boccia quarter-finals

“It was a battle, it was more about myself this morning – getting myself up for it,” said Smith, who won individual silver at London 2012 and upgraded to gold at Rio 2016. “I had a good sleep last night and came in excited.

“I knew it was important, a sort of knockout now – I knew if I won I was through, if I lost I was out. It was pretty much a last 16 match if you can call it that.

“I played it a bit safe, I could have opened it up a little bit more maybe. I did the job, good enough, through to the next round.

“All it is now is winning the games, rather than being too fancy with it. I tightened up the defence, compromised my attack a little bit at times but it’s all good. Onwards and upwards, let’s try to do our best.”

Scott McCowan was the other Brit to reach the knockout stages of individual competition as he too came through a ‘winner-takes-all’ contest, edging Spencer Cotie 4-3 to pinch top spot in Pool E of the BC3 competition ahead of the Australian.

The Scot made a flying start by scoring three in the first end and although Cotie responded with two points in the second, McCowan re-extended his advantage to 4-2 in the next and limited his foe to just one in the final end to advance.

Scott McCowan beat his brother Jamie en route to the boccia quarter-finals

“It was a great game, a really tough one,” said McCowan, who will play Brazil’s Evelyn de Oliveira in Tuesday’s quarter-final. “Spencer played a great game and I had to have my A-game to win.

“Thankfully I got the three points in the first end, so I made a really good start, but I really had to dig in and hold my nerve in that last end. I managed to get the ball in to stop him getting the extra point.

“A real hard-fought victory but I loved it. I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing. I’ve played three really solid games – literally almost as good as I can play.

“I feel really comfortable out there – I’m in the form of my life just now.”

McCowan’s younger brother Jamie, in the same pool as his sibling, ended his competition with a third straight defeat when Stefania Ferrando edged him in a tie-break after their match ended 2-2.

Five of the ParalympicsGB boccia squad were eliminated at the group stage of their individual competitions

Back in the BC4 competition, Louis Saunders lost 9-0 to Thai boccia player Ritthikrai Somsanuk, while BC3 pair Claire Taggart and Will Hipwell both went down 8-1 to Brazil’s Maciel Santos and Belgium’s Francis Rombouts respectively.

That trio ended their individual Tokyo 2020 campaigns without a pool win and although BC4 athlete Stephen McGuire entered the day with a chance of qualifying from Pool C, a 6-0 defeat to Colombia’s Euclides Grisales meant he missed out.

“A very tough match,” said McGuire. “My opponent from Colombia is the world silver medallist from Liverpool only three years ago so it was always going to be very difficult.”

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