Three-time Paralympic champion David Smith and reigning world champion Claire Taggart head up a five-strong squad of brilliant boccia players who will line up for ParalympicsGB at the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games this August.

Heading to the Games

Smith – who became Britain’s most decorated boccia player after successfully defending his Paralympic title at the rescheduled Tokyo Games three years ago – will head to the French capital looking to add to his current tally of five Paralympic medals from four Games.

Northern Irish athlete Taggart heads to Paris as the world number one in her class. The 29-year-old, who claimed her first global title in 2022, will compete in the new individual female category introduced for these Games – mixed events had been on the schedule when she competed at Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020.

Taggart said: “I’m delighted to be selected to compete at my third Paralympic Games in Paris. It’s a huge opportunity to compete in front of family and friends, as Paris is so close. I’m really excited as well as a bit nervous!”

Former frame runner and swimmer Kayleigh Haggo will meanwhile make her Paralympic debut after an impressive season which saw her win her first major international medal in Zagreb in April.

The Scot, who won several world titles in frame running before switching to boccia in 2022, will also compete alongside Taggart and Smith in the BC1/2 Team event; the trio fresh from winning silver at the Sao Paulo World Cup last week.

Smith said: “I’m really excited for my fifth Paralympic Games and it will be great to play in front of a crowd again, after the Tokyo Games was limited by Covid. While I do love playing individually, the team event has always been a strong passion of mine. The team medal was my first at a Paralympics, so it’s kind of where I learned my craft. Our team then went into a bit of a transition, so it’s always been my ambition to return us to where we were.”

Fellow Paralympic debutants Will Arnott and teenager Sally Kidson complete a stellar squad and will line up in the BC3 Pairs event having won gold at the qualifying event in Japan earlier this year.

Kidson – who is supported by ramp assistant Hannah Stewart – is the youngest athlete in the boccia line-up. 2023 was a breakout year for the young star from Salisbury, beating the likes of World champion Ana Costa and European champion Sonia Heckel.

Arnott, 25, is supported by ramp assistant Connor Wellfare and they both live in Reading. Together, they secured a silver medal at the 2023 Para European Championships.

ParalympicsGB Chef de Mission Penny Briscoe said:

“I’m really excited to see the ParalympicsGB team taking shape with today’s addition of David, Claire, Will, Sally and Kayleigh – our boccia squad for Paris 2024. We have a superb depth of talent among our five selected athletes, across individual and team disciplines, and I can’t wait to see them all in action this summer.”

Greg Baker, Boccia UK’s Performance Director, said:

“I’m so proud of the five athletes headed to the boccia court in Paris. Since Tokyo, we’ve seen some key players retire and it’s been more difficult to qualify than ever before, so to see new players coming forward, delivering on the world stage and making their Paralympic debut is fantastic for our sport. It is also testament to our staff – the team behind the team – who have worked incredibly hard to support the squad.

“We’ve also got very experienced players in David Smith, Paralympic champion, and Claire Taggart, World champion. Of course, it is the first time that the male and female individual events will be separated at the Games, which is helping to grow the sport globally.

“We’ve had a very productive season with increased competition and international training opportunities to ensure our athletes and staff are as ready as possible for the Games. Our focus now is making sure that the next couple of months offer further great preparation for the squad, giving them the best chance to deliver great performances in Paris.”

A total of around 230 athletes from 19 sports are expected to make up the ParalympicsGB team that will compete in Paris, with further names to be announced by ParalympicsGB in the next few weeks.

ParalympicsGB boccia squad

David Smith – BC1 (Athlete Competition Partner: Misel Kranjcec)

Claire Taggart – BC2

Kayleigh Haggo – BC2

Will Arnott – BC3 (Athlete Competition Partner: Connor Wellfare)

Sally Kidson – BC3 (Athlete Competition Partner: Hannah Stewart)