December 11th 2022
British boccia star Claire Taggart became World Champion in Rio de Janeiro last night after a 7-1 victory.
Up against Rebecca Duarte of El Salvador in the BC2 women’s final, it was never really in doubt for the talent from Larne in Northern Ireland. Earning a point in the first end on her own jack, Taggart delivered a masterclass in moving things around on court to make things happen, even resetting Duarte’s jack to the centre. Duarte was able to claw back a point to start the fourth end 5-1. But a superb final shot from Taggart pushed the jack to score a further two points.
“I’m in shock and delight to have won. I’m a little bit tired but I’m buzzing to go again in the Team with David and Will. Thanks everyone for sending so much support. I guess this is for Northern Ireland.”
Meanwhile, three-time Paralympic gold medallist David Smith (Eastleigh/Swansea) won the BC1 silver medal after the formidable opponent of Witsanu Huadpradit of Thailand won 5-0:
“I’m a little bit deflated but I’m satisfied with how I played,” said Smith. “It was a bit frustrating that I had a few hits that didn’t do anything. Congratulations to Huadpradit – he’s always been a big rival of mine so I don’t mind losing to him as such. I had a chance and unfortunately the floor didn’t let me take it and that’s just how it goes.”
It is the first time that two players from Britain have featured in the individual finals of the World Boccia Championships since 2010. Performance Director Greg Baker says the outstanding results this week are testament to the dedication and sheer hard work of players:
“I am incredibly proud of how the team have performed out here in Rio. Two fantastic medals and a great platform for us to build from as we get closer to Paris 2024. Claire has been very consistent at this competition and has shown her world class level throughout. David will be disappointed to not win another world title, but he won a great silver medal and knowing him he will build and progress over the next 18 months to be as strong as he can be for Paris.
“The rest of the team have also had some great wins, beating top 10 ranked players and progressing into last 16 and quarter final matches. They should be proud of their achievements and I know all of them want to improve and maximise their potential to be amongst semi-finals and onwards in future competitions. This is now our mission to do just that as a collective athlete and staff team.
“I want to say a big thank you to the coaches, support staff, ramp assistants and assistants who – as always – have worked incredibly hard and all play such a significant part in any results we achieve when we are away at competition,” added Baker.
There is little time to celebrate however as the squad is back in action for Team and Pairs. And Britain will be riding high with Taggart and Smith both featuring in the BC1/2 Team alongside Cambridge Paralympian Will Hipwell.
Claire Taggart with BC2 Medal at the 2022 World Championships (Credit Boccia UK)
David Smith and Claire Taggart with Medals at the 2022 World Championships (Credit Boccia UK)