Larne Paralympian Claire Taggart is looking ahead to December’s World Boccia Championships with an extra boost of confidence after winning two gold medals at the World Cup in Povoa, Portugal.
The Northern Ireland talent had cemented her position as one of the world’s strongest boccia players, winning her first-ever World Cup last week.
Unbeaten all week, she stormed through the individual pool matches with a 5-1 win over Ana Correia of Portugal and then she saw off Slovakia’s Kristina Kudlacova 9-3. Meeting Vivien Nagy at the quarter final stages, she forced the Hungarian out of the competition with an incredible 13-0 victory before eliminating China’s Hiu Lam Yeung 6-1. She faced Correia again in the final, a repeat of Taggart’s opening match. It went to 2-2 but Taggart won on tie-break.
Her success in Povoa will surely see her rise in the world rankings from her current no.3 position.
And to top her success in the individual competition, she went on to win gold in the BC1/2 Team event with David Smith OBE and Will Hipwell.
“I’m beyond delighted to win my first ever World Cup and to do it here in Portugal with my Dad and all my teammates is amazing. I’m just so proud of all the work I’ve put in and I’m so grateful for all the support my teammates, my coach Glynn (Tromans) and support staff have given me.”
And Smith said:
“We came into 2022 with the aim of moving up the rankings, slowly improving to the top four. We were under no illusions what it was going to take. Povoa was to a stepping stone and we were aiming for a top eight finish.
“We decided we needed to focus on our consistency, shot after shot, which would enable us to be brave with our shots and decisions. I’m so proud of what we have achieved. It’s easily one of my career highlights.
“I hope that with a successful Boccia UK team, it inspires more Team competition at National level. We have a proud history of Team and Pairs success – let’s keep adding to it.”
The achievement is set to help lift the British BC1/2 Team’s world ranking ahead of the World Championships in Brazil in December.
Meanwhile, in the BC3 Pairs competition, the new Pairing of Northern Ireland’s Robyn McBride and Scotland’s Patrick Wilson finished 4th.
After topping their group with wins over Portugal and Greece – who won the bronze medal at the 2020 Paralympics – the Great Britain Pair faced Hong Kong in the Semi-Final, where they lost narrowly 5-3. This set up a re-match against Portugal for the Bronze medal, which resulted in another tight game ending 3-3 and Great Britain lost the tie break end. But this was a great result for the new Pair as they work towards the World Championships in December.