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Chance to stake claims as NZ’s best boccia players

Media release national champs - 1
23 September 2014

Chance to stake claims as NZ’s best boccia players

Players across the country are adding the final touches to their training as they prepare to take on the best at the 2014 New Zealand National Boccia Championships in Wellington next week (3 - 6 Oct).

It is the final sanctioned tournament of the year in which players can earn valuable ranking points and stake their claims as the best players in their respective classification grades ahead of the 2015 season.

In the largest national boccia event held in New Zealand, the 2014 National Champs will welcome athletes from throughout the country: Whangarei (4), Auckland (2), Hamilton (1), Palmerston North (2), Masterton (6), Wellington (11), Christchurch (6) and Dunedin (5) as well as Australia (2) to compete for the titles across the three grades.

In the BC1, 2 & 4 combined grade all eyes will be on NZ number two Matthew Whiting from Christchurch and the current South Island champion Jeremy Morriss from Rangiora.

Meanwhile, improving Hutt athlete David Harrison and Masterton’s Bridget McLaren will also provide tough opposition, while Hamilton’s Vishal Chandra also looks set to make waves after claiming silver in the Upper North Island Champs earlier in the year.

In the BC3 grade, the hot favourite will undoubtedly be Greig ‘the surgeon’ Jackson who is currently competing in Beijing at the Boccia World Champs. He will return in time to defend his number one national ranking. Jackson will face stiff competition from a number of athletes, including long-time rival Henk Dijkstra from Dunedin, NZ number three Hyran Daymond from Wainuiomata, Andrew Phillips from Kawakawa and newcomer Terry O’Hagan from Masterton.

In the popular Kiwi / Open grade, defending national champion Scott Burdett from Whangarei will be the man to beat. Burdett will have to be on top of his game to beat challenges from the Lower North Island champ Khi Chung Chen from Auckland and the current South Island champ Andrew Hocken from Christchurch, as well as a host of others looking to improve their reputations.

Wellington will field its largest ever representation at the champs this year with 11 players. Other locals to compete include Matthew Henderson, David Pearman, William Parker, Kathy Flanagan, Colin Frude, Nicola Dunleavy, Dione Pere, Natalie Austing and Nathan Delamare.

The sport of boccia tests each competitor’s degree of muscle control and accuracy. Seated, athletes throw, kick or use a ramp to propel six leather balls as close as possible to a white ball which serves as the jack or target.

Competitors generally have a high level of physical impairment and it is particularly beneficial for people with severe cerebral palsy, post polio syndrome, locomotor disabilities such as muscular dystrophy, quadriplegia or multiple sclerosis and those with limited movement.

"This highly skilled and strategic game was originally developed from bowls and bocce as a sport suitable for people with the highest level of physical impairment but has grown to be more than just a pastime," says Luke Morriss, Boccia New Zealand Director.

“For many athletes with physical impairments, their sporting pathways can be limited. Boccia is a sport that can be played and enjoyed by anyone, whether it is at a local club level or at an international level,” he says.

To find out more information, visit www.boccia.org.nz

- Ends -

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