Paralympic Boccia

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Paralympic Boccia

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Paralympic Boccia

© London 2012

The sport that is relatively unknown outside of the Paralympic Games - get to know Boccia at the ExCeL, starting with learning the correct pronunciation of the word itself.

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What is Paralympic Boccia?


A sport unique to the Paralympic Games, Boccia (pronounced like the English slang expression 'gotcha') involves throwing leather balls towards a target ball, or jack, across a series of demanding "ends", or sets, on a playing area measuring 12.5m by 6m. Its nearest able bodied relative is the French sport of boule, or our own bowls. Boccia is played by wheelchair athletes of either gender with cerebral palsy and related locomotor conditions. Played competitively in more than 50 countries worldwide and is a touch test of nerves, tactics and skill, believed to have its origins in Ancient Greece. If Channel 4's Paralympic Show presenter Jon Snow is to be believed, Boccia will be "the secret sensation" of the Paralympics.


Who won Paralympic Boccia gold in Beijing in 2008?


There were seven different Boccia events at Beijing 2008, with Brazil and South Korea topping the overall medals table with two golds each.

The gold medallists were:
Individual BC1: Joao Paulo Fernandes (Portugal)
Individual BC2: Hoi Ying Karen Kwok (Hong Kong)
Individual BC3: Keon-Woo Park (South Korea)
Individual BC4: Dirceu Pinto (Brazil)
Team BC1-2: Dan Bentley, Nigel Murray, Zoe Robinson, David Smith (Great Britain)
Pairs: BC3 Ho-Won Jeong, Keon-Woo Park, Bo-Mee Shin (South Korea)
Pairs BC4: Dirceu Pinto, Eliseu Santos (Brazil)


Do ParalympicsGB have a chance of Paralympic Boccia medals?


Great Britain won gold in the Team event in Beijing in 2008 with their quartet of Dan Bentley, Nigel Murray, Zoe Robertson and David Smith and Murray also picked up silver in the Individual BC2. Since then Britain have established themselves as a leading force in the Boccia world, with David Smith the current world number two and Europa Cup winner in 2011. GB won five medals at the London Prepares Test Event in May 2012 and an investment in talent identification and development has seen them build a strong squad for the 2012 Paralympics, with Jess Hunter - born severely affected by cerebral palsy - and Jacob Thomas ones to watch out for.


Where will the Paralympic Boccia take place?


The London 2012 Boccia programme features seven medal events and takes place at the ExCeL exhibition centre, the most used venue for the Paralympics outside of the Olympic Park. If you're in need of a great nearby hotel, check out the hotel deals service. Also, take a look at our Paralympics Map to get a better look at where everything's taking place.


When is the Paralympic Boccia?


The Boccia programme runs from Sunday 2nd September right through until Saturday 8th. The medal events are on Tuesday 4th and Saturday 8th September. See our Paralympics Day-by-Day Guide for the full schedule of events.


How do I get to Paralympic Boccia at the ExCeL


The ExCeL Centre is located just south of the main Olympic Park, north of the River Thames and beside the Royal Victoria Dock. The most used venue outside of the Park, the ExCeL opened its doors in 2000 and is one of Europe's largest exhibition spaces. DLR stations Custom House and Prince Regent both service the ExCeL Centre and you can also access it via the brand new Emirates Air Line cable car that carries passengers across the Thames between Royal Victoria Docks and the Greenwich Peninsula.


How do I get tickets to the Paralympic Boccia?


Tickets can be purchased from More than 2.1 million of the 2.5 million available tickets have already been sold - organisers are claiming this could be the first Paralympics to sell out in the 52 year history of the Games. Twitter users could start following @2012TicketAlert, an unofficial feed set up during the Olympics which runs a check on the official site every three minutes and tweets every time a ticket becomes available.


What are the disability divisions for Paralympic Boccia?


There are four classifications and all events are mixed. The BC1 class is for players who have Cerebral Palsy. Athletes are permitted to have an assistant on court to pass them the ball before they throw. BC1 athletes are also allowed to use their hands or feet to play the ball. Most athletes throw the ball but a small number might kick the ball into play. The BC2 class is also for players who have Cerebral Palsy but BC2 players are more able to grip and release the ball  than BC1 players. As a result they are not permitted an assistant on court. There are three events for BC1 and BC2 players: the Individual BC1 event, the Individual BC2 event and the BC1/BC2 Team event which is three aside - one BC1 player per side must be on court at all times.   

The BC3 classification is for players with either Cerebral Palsy or other conditions and was added to the Games in 1996. BC3 players have the highest level of impairment and are unable to throw or kick the ball consistently into play. Therefore, they play using an assistive device, also known as a ramp. The athlete has an assistant on court that faces away from play and is not allowed to turn around for the duration of the end. The assistant positions the ramp under instruction from the player and places the ball on the ramp for the player to release. There are two BC3 events: an Individual and a Pairs event. The BC4 class is for players who do not have Cerebral Palsy and was first included in the Paralympic Games in Athens in 2004. BC4 players have similar functional ability to BC2 players so have difficulty gripping and releasing the ball but they can throw it consistently into play. There are two BC4 events: an Individual and a Pairs event.


When did Boccia first appear in the Paralympics?


Boccia made its Paralympic debut in 1984 at the New York/Stoke Mandeville Games. Great Britain's Carol Johnson won gold in the Women's individual C1, whilst the USA took two golds.





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