Shocking results rocked day three (14 August) of the 2018 World Boccia Championships when two world No. 1s were knocked out of the individual competition in Liverpool, Great Britain.
Top-ranked BC4 player Stephen McGuire of Great Britain hoped to defend his title in front of a home crowd, but that dream was dashed by Germany’s Boris Nicolai.
“I’m disappointed not to reach the standards I hit in the group stages,” McGuire said. “But I credit Boris as he gained court position quickly. I managed to claw my way back into it and although it came down to the last couple of balls, my opponent deserved the win. My focus now switches to the pairs event - we’re feeling confident and we’ll be putting all our energy into securing a medal.”
Nicolai then eliminated Brazil’s Eliseu dos Santos later Tuesday to reach Wednesday’s (15 August) semi-finals. It was a brilliant result for the German who arrived in Liverpool ranked 23rd.
The other shocker happened in the BC2 category, where Thailand’s reigning Paralympic champion Watcharaphon Vongsa suffered a second bad day in Liverpool, as he lost to Slovakia’s Robert Mezik on the quarter finals.
“I have never beaten him before and it was a good result, especially because I progressed out of the group on points difference,” Mezik said.
It was business as usual though for the top players in the BC1 and BC3 sides.
Home favourite David Smith and Japan’s Takumi Nakamura gave the audience a thrilling show. BC1 world No. 1 Smith dropped his first point of the tournament in the second end. Smith was lucky to escape defeat in the fourth to send it to a tiebreak.
“His tactics made me work hard,” Smith said. “I’ve played well all week but sometimes it’s good to win ugly because it is important to battle and dig deep.”
The Netherlands’ world BC1 No. 2 Daniel Perez defeated old foe Tomas Kral of Slovakia to continue his medal chase.
“I made it difficult for myself in the second end,” Perez said. “I would have liked to have scored a couple of points there. I lost to him at the Europeans in 2017 so it was nice revenge.”
Greece’s Greg Polychronidis continued a smooth campaign toward the BC3 world title. An 8-0 win over Canada’s Eric Bussiere set him up to face Russia’s Aleksander Legostaev*, whom he defeated 4-3.
“It was very tough,” Polychronidis said. “He (Aleksander) played excellently and I’m happy I managed to play well and take the victory.”
“He (Australia’s Daniel Michel) is a very good player,” Polychronidis added about his semi-final opponent. “We played together in Rio and I won but every game is 50/50.”
Individual finals take place Wednesday (15 August) before team and pairs events follow. Competition continues until Saturday (18 August).
*Editor's note: The International Paralympic Committee suspended the Russian Paralympic Committee on 7 August 2016 for its inability to fulfil its IPC membership responsibilities and obligations, in particular its obligation to comply with the IPC Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Code (to which it is also a signatory). As a result of the suspension, Russian athletes cannot enter IPC sanctioned events or competitions, including the Paralympic Games.