Claire Taggart and Robyn McBride have returned home to a hero’s welcome from the 2022 World Boccia Championships held in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. The pair were part of the Boccia UK team that reached three finals, with Claire securing Gold in the BC2 Individual and Silver in BC1/BC2 team competitions.


Sitting third in the female rankings prior to the competition, expectations were high for Claire to secure a medal. However, the Larne athlete was able to exceed even her own expectations as she became the first female athlete to win BC2 Gold since a female only event was introduced.


Facing up against Rebecca Duarte of El Salvador in the final, Claire managed to dominate the early stages of the match building up a 5-0 lead before completing a resounding 7-1 victory.


There was little time to celebrate as Claire returned to the court the following day to join teammates, David Smith OBE and Will Hipwell, in the BC1/BC2 competition. The trio were on superb form as they progressed through the pool and knockout stages of the competition. This culminated on Tuesday evening, when they secured the Silver medal in a nail biting final with South Korea.


In addition to a Silver medal won by teammate David Smith OBE in the individual competitions this meant that Boccia UK returned from Rio completing their most successful World Championship performance to date.


Following the final Claire said:


“I’m delighted to be coming home as World Champion. I didn’t expect it at all. It’s been an amazing Championships. And to add a second medal from the Team is incredible. I’m so proud of David, Will and Sarah and Tom, our coaches.


“Paris 2024 is under two years away now and it’s exciting going into it as World Champion but it’s not time to get complacent or look beyond next year. We’ll focus on the events coming round including the Europeans and aim to qualify for Paralympics with the Team.”


Elsewhere, Robyn McBride from Antrim, showed signs of her promising future as she topped Pool D of the BC3 individual competition. Robyn, along with Ramp Operator Davy McBride, defeated Ladamanee Kla-Han (world number four) and Marcela Cermakova (world number 11) to progress to the last 16 of the competition. Robyn would face eventual Gold medallist, Ana Costa of Portugal, in a competitive match conceding 4-1.


Robyn spoke of her experience saying,


“I’ve really enjoyed my first World Championships and it was fantastic to top the group ahead of two players that are ranked higher than myself. I was pleased with my performance, and I’ve come away with more experience, in such a big event. I’m excited for the future.”


Claire and Robyn continue to be supported by Sport NI, Boccia UK and Disability Sport NI.


Kevin O’Neill, Chief Executive of Disability Sport NI comments, “This has been the most successful year to date for Northern Ireland boccia players medalling on the world stage. Claire has been a trailblazer for the sport, and we are now in a position where in addition to a world champion, Northern Ireland is seeing some very promising talent joining the boccia pathway.


“There is a strong club structure and competitive pathway for boccia locally and we would encourage everyone to learn more about the sport and get in touch with Disability Sport NI for information and opportunities.”


Claire Taggart pictured as she arrives back in Belfast with Mum Maggie, Dad Stevie, Wendy Elliott(Sport NI Board Member) and Kevin ONeill (CEO Disability Sport NI).


Claire Taggart pictured with Robyn McBride as they arrive back in Belfast from World Boccia championships in Rio De Janeiro
Presseye/Stephen Hamilton



Claire Taggart pictured with her Yorkshire terrier Lilly as she arrives back in Belfast from World Boccia championships in Rio De Janeiro
Presseye/Stephen Hamilton