ONES TO WATCH
As athletes from across the globe start making their way to Liverpool for the BISFed 2018 World Boccia Championships, we reveal our ones to watch...
All eyes will be on David Smith MBE. He is Britain’s joint most decorated player of all time and the reigning Paralympic gold medallist. Stiff competition is expected from the likes of Daniel Perez of the Netherlands. Keep an eye out too for José Carlos Chagas de Oliveira who ended Smith’s undefeated run to win top honours in Montreal earlier this year.
Thailand is set to bring a formidable team. And that is certainly true in the BC2 category. Vongsa Watcharaphon won the Paralympic gold in Rio in 2016 but his compatriot Worawut Saengampa will be intent on defending his World Championship title. Meanwhile, Maciel Santos of Brazil has gathered a number of gold medals this season.
Greece’s Grigoris Polychronidis is the defending European champion. A popular player who works on court with his wife and ramp assistant Katerina. Watch out too for Britain’s own Jamie McCowan, who has enjoyed time in the World number two spot in the rankings this season. South Korea's Jeong Ho Won also makes a return to competition. He hasn't played since winning gold at Rio. He is also the defending champion. A very real threat!
Britain should fare well in the BC4 class. Stephen McGuire has enjoyed a superb season. He won two gold medals at the BISFed Montreal World Boccia Open and is defending champion. Expect plenty of home crowd support for the Scot – half his family lives in Liverpool! Expect Thailand, Hong Kong and Colombia to perform well.
Brazil dominate here. They are the Paralympic gold medallists from Rio 2016 and if recent tournaments are anything to go by, they are set to excel in Liverpool. Don’t rule out South Korea, silver medallists from Rio or Great Britain who have been performing well this season.
Slovakia may be the reigning Paralympic champions but they have slipped in the World rankings this season. They have been overtaken by Hong Kong and Great Britain. For Britain, Stephen McGuire and Evie Edwards form a strong duo, having recently gathered gold medals in Montreal and Madrid.
Thailand and Japan are favourites as gold and silver medallists from the Paralympic Games in Rio in 2016. Brazil has also enjoyed a strong season while the Netherlands, led by Daniel Perez, can also boast a strong track record.