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‘The Surgeon’ off to World Champs

Media release
28 August 2014

‘The Surgeon’ off to World Champs

It’s personally costing him $13,000 to compete but Greig ‘The Surgeon’ Jackson reckons he’s in fine shape to cut through the competition at this year’s Boccia World Championships.

After five years away from the global arena, Greig (49) has been readying himself for international competition with an intense, 12 month build-up with ramp assistant Bruce Bycroft.

What makes it even harder for the disabled athlete is that he’s had to raise the required $13000 to compete.

From Palmerston North, Jackson is the only Kiwi to qualify for this year’s Boccia World Championships in Bejing from 19 to 28 September.

Greig qualified for Beijing on the back of his 4th place at the Asia & Oceania Champs in Sydney last year. Since then, he has been on a roll.

He won silver at the NZ National Champs in 2013 and this year placed 4th at the Australian Nationals, won silver at the Lower North Island Champs and more recently gold at the Upper North Island Champs where he conceded only 1 point.

The first class results are a measure of Greig’s progress since Sydney last year.

“I'm in a positive frame of mind going into these World Champs. It proved to be an eye opener coming back in to the game last year after being out of the international scene for five years. Nowadays every ball must count or it can cost you the game,” says Greig.

The indoor sport, originally designed for people with cerebral palsy and other related neurological conditions, is similar to lawn bowls and petanque but played with soft leather balls. Seated, players throw or kick the balls trying to get as close to the white jack ball as possible. Those who are unable to throw or kick the balls use a ramp and assistive device to propel their balls into court with the support of an assistant.

“We have developed a much lighter and simpler ‘headwand’ for Greig so he does not tire on court,” Bruce Bycroft says. “A few changes have also been made to the ramp setup, which of course is very hush-hush.”

Jackson is nicknamed "The Surgeon" - not for his special headwand that he wears during competition, but for his unique ability to clinically redistribute the spread of balls on court to his own advantage. Earlier this month he gained his highest ever test score in his skills performance test.

Boccia New Zealand Director Luke Morriss says Greig has consistently finished in the top 12 at international events since 2002.

“We expect the recent improvements he has made as well as the rigorous training programme -including several trips to Australia to hone skills and compete with his Australian counterparts - will take him to the podium.”

As part of his training Greig practices his boccia skill and gameplay at least four days a week. In addition, he swims once a week and propels himself around the block four or five times a week in his manual wheelchair to maintain fitness.

The Boccia World Championships will feature more than 180 athletes competing over nine days and serve as a crucial qualifying event for the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games.

To find out more information and to send your support to Greig, visit www.boccia.org.nz

Ends

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