"Personally, I feel great competing in the UK! The greatest title of my career, the Paralympic gold medal, was won at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. I have also won three more medals in the UK, so I am hoping I can secure another great achievement."
Greece’s Greg Polychronidis moved into the world No. 1 spot and is among the ones to watch in the BC3 class at the BISFed 2018 World Boccia Championships.
Get to know the four-time Paralympic medallist, who will go for his first individual gold medal at the Worlds, set for 12-18 August in Liverpool, Great Britain.
How is your season going so far?
GP: The season is going great. I just got ranked world No. 1 in my category and I won gold in the Madrid Regional Open (in March), as well as two gold medals at the Greek National Championships. I am now the Greek champion for 17 consecutive years.
How tough do you expect the competition to be in Liverpool?
The World Championships in Liverpool will be as tough as the Paralympic Games. The greatest athletes from all over the world will give their best performance and fight for the World Champion title. I expect very difficult matches, so I train hard in order to deliver my best performance.
How important are the Worlds in the calendar?
It is the second major event after the Paralympics. Only the best athletes are competing in the Worlds. Also, it’s where we can collect the most qualification points for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games so it’s a really important tournament.
Apart from yourself, who do you think are the ones to watch?
First of all, thank you for the honour of including me in the ones to watch list! There are so many elite athletes in each category, that it is almost impossible and unfair to choose just a few names.
Are you excited about returning to the United Kingdom?
Boccia UK in collaboration with the organisers are always creating great events. Taking in mind the London 2012 Paralympics as well as the National Paralympic Days that I have competed at, the experience was amazing. I am sure [Great Britain] will raise the bar even more in Liverpool.
Personally, I feel great competing in the UK! The greatest title of my career, the Paralympic gold medal, was won at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. I have also won three more medals in the UK, so I am hoping I can secure another great achievement.
How did you get started in the sport?
The Athens 2004 Paralympics were my inspiration. I had a dream to participate in these Games in my home city. I started playing boccia in 2001 and made my dream come true.
Do you have any routines or superstitions before you compete?
I always pray. I mostly listen to classical music, in order to calm myself and have a clear mind before entering the court.
You married your assistant Katerina last August. How crucial is the relationship between player and assistant? And how special is it to share these moments with your wife?
My relationship with Katerina is one of my strongest advantages. We have a great, effective and very fast communication since we are together 24/7. Also, because we are husband and wife we don’t face any training schedule limits and it is important in order to train as much as needed in such a competitive sport as boccia.
Regarding the moments that we share together, I feel the luckiest man to have the opportunity to experience the greatest achievements of my life with the person that I love most and is my wife.
How do you feel about the growth of boccia?
I started competing internationally in 2003 and it has been wonderful to witness the sport grow so much. The number of countries developing boccia, and the number of athletes has been greatly increased. The standard of competition has also grown. The foundation of the Boccia International Sport Federation (BISFed) has totally changed the competition system which has upgraded boccia’s status amongst the other Paralympic sports.
Also, the creation of different committees by BISFed for the development of the sport provides efficient results. I am honoured to be a member of the Competition and Rules Committee. My role is to share my sport experience as well as to gather feedback from other athletes, in collaboration with my colleagues, in order for our committee to solve technical problems and create fair rules.