The Boccia World Cup threw up a number of shock results over the weekend with a number of previously unfancied players securing podium finishes.
The BC1 and BC3 individual categories were dominated by Asian players, several of whom rose from the bottom of the ranking tables with a more aggressive style of play.
In the BC1 class, in which players with cerebral palsy use their hands or feet to propel a ball into play, Korea’s Ji Kwang Min, who was ranked 17th before the competition, stormed to gold in the final against China’s Zhang Qi, winning 3-2. In the match for third place, Greece’s Panagiotis Soulanis, ranked 38th before the competition, took bronze, beating Great Britain’s David Smith 4-3.
Speaking to paralympic.org before the competition, Smith had been wary of the Asian game strategy.
“The Asians play a very different style,” he said. “They have a more open and aggressive style, taking the jack much higher up the court.”
Korea won three medals in the BC3 class, in which players with a locomotor impairment in all four limbs use a ramp to propel the ball into play and are supported by an assistant or 'ramper'. Beijing 2008 Paralympic bronze medallist Jeong Ho Won kept his spot as world number won, beating his previously unranked teammate Choi Ye Jin 4-1. Kim Han Soo took bronze, beating Greece’s Paralympic silver medallist Grigorios Polychronidis 8-2.
But the Asian players did not dominate all categories. Brazil and Portugal had multiple medal successes in the BC2 and BC4 categories
Brazil’s Eliseu dos Santos, 2008 Paralympic bronze medallist, shot to the top of the podium in the BC4 finals, by beating Canada’s previously unranked Marc Dispaltro 3-2 in the final. Portugal’s Domingos Vieira, also previously unranked, won the match for third place 4-1 against Hong Kong’s Lau Wai Yan. The BC4 game is for players who do not have Cerebral Palsy but have another locomotor impairment in all four limbs, which gives them a similar functional ability to BC2 athletes.
Great Britain’s Nigel Murray had to settle for silver in the BC2 category, where players with Cerebral Palsy use their hands to propel a ball into play with greater functional ability than BC1 athletes. Portugal’s previously unranked player Abilio Valente beat Murray 4-2. In the match for third place, Brazil’s Santos Maciel was victorious over Ireland’s Roberta Connolly, winning 3-1. Maciel had previously been ranked 31st and Connolly 41st before entering the competition.