England’s finest BC1, 2 and 3 Boccia athletes met their Scottish, Welsh and Irish counterparts at the weekend at a new and exciting individuals competition run by Mark Gaffney and his team at Scottish Disability Sport.
A squad of six travelled from all over the nation to fly the St George flag during the day-long event Edinburgh’s Engage Centre. Lewis Fisher and Lee Maddison came from just over the border in the Newcastle area; Rich Amos from the midlands, Reshad Saraj from London and Jabe Peake, Tia Ruel and Matt Berry came from the south and south east regions.
Keen to start the new season off with successes in the BC1,2 & 3 categories our EPG representatives were there looking smart and ready to go in their navy blue kit at 7.45am. So ready were they, in fact, that they arrived and formed an orderly queue outside - even before the building was open!
Once inside, the day began promisingly for our BC3s as Amos, Berry, Fisher and Maddison were first on. And if that first round of this well-run competition is anything to go by it’s going to be a great year of Boccia for England as all four athletes were on consecutive courts at the same time, taking a line of wins 15-0, 10-1, 16-0, 13-1 respectively.
Carrying on the winning streak, Peake and Saraj went upbeaten throughout the day in three matches a piece to secure gold in their BC1 and BC2 round robin events. Both are pleased with topping their groups – and international titles - and hope to maintain the momentum throughout the season.
It was an out of sorts day for Ruel, one of five females at the competition, who struggled with a few equipment issues on the day that will most certainly be mended by the next competitive fixture.
Busy as ever in the BC3s, our lads were split into two groups that brought equal amounts of highs and lows. Maddison and Amos just missed out on group qualification with Berry and Fisher performing immaculately to top their pools. They went on to the play-offs where they won gold and bronze respectively in exciting ball-for-ball matches against the likes of GB’s Patrick Wilson.
Boccia England’s Talent Manager Matt Kendrick, who flew to Edinburgh to be a part of the squad’s support team, said: "Great to see such strong performances across all of our represented classes early in the season. The athletes showed their class against the home country and Boccia UK opposition to take several medals. This will set the athletes up will for the coming season and I look forward to them continuing this momentum in the upcoming domestic competition Pathway."
Mark Gaffney, Opportunities and Events Manager, Scottish Disability Sport, who engineered the Invitational following a disappointing cancellation of the Scottish Open, was pleased with this replacement event:
“We put together a packed programme so thank you to you all – players, coaches, supporters, parents – for making it a great day. There was some fine play on the courts today and it was fantastic to see you all. We look forward to welcoming you to the teams and pairs competition next year.”
Photos of the event can be found here