Many of the world’s best boccia players are in Povoa, Portugal, for the BISFed 2018 Boccia World Open, which begins on Monday (2 July); the last major event before August’s World Championships.
Ninety-five athletes from 20 countries are set to compete, with all four individual events starring the world ranked No. 1 players.
The BC1 could see a rematch of the Rio 2016 Paralympic final, with Great Britain’s top-ranked David Smith and the Netherlands’ world No. 2 Daniel Perez headlining the entry list. The two met in March’s Regional Open in Madrid, Spain, with Smith triumphant.
Greece’s Greg Polychronidis is currently top of the BC3 standings. He brings momentum to Povoa after winning gold in Madrid by defeating European champion and world No. 2 Jamie McCowan of Great Britain. Despite sitting outside the world’s top five, 2016 Paralympic bronze medallist Jose Macedo will be a force to be reckoned with on home territory.
Another British player leading the world rankings is Stephen McGuire in the BC4 category. McGuire has had an outstanding year, winning competitions in Madrid and Montreal, Canada. He will get an unfamiliar test from Thailand’s No. 2 Pornchok Larpyen, who has not competed internationally this year but is a proven podium contender after bronze medals in Rio and at the Asian Championships.
An all-Thai showdown is expected in the BC2 category. Watcharaphon Vongsa could go head-to-head with Worawut Saengampa, the man he defeated to win the Paralympic and Asian titles. The duo will combine and lead Thailand in the team BC1/BC2 event, where the nation boasts the No. 1 standing.
Great Britain are the highest ranked in both pairs BC3 and BC4 events in Povoa.
The World Open runs until 9 July, exactly one month before the BISFed 2018 World Boccia Championships.
Live results from Povoa will be available on BISFed’s website