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World fourth puts Patrick up the rankings

Peebles Boccia player Patrick Wilson has returned from the World Championships in Spain with an impressive fourth place.

The result gives the 21-year-old an official ranking of sixth best BC3 player in the world but the jet setting Borderer is not about to rest on his laurels with a World Open in America looming this month and the European Championships in Portugal in October.

Patrick, who has cerebral palsy, has been playing the sport of Boccia (pronounced botcha) since 2011 and has competed in two World Championships, numerous World Opens, European Championships and the Paralympics in Rio last year.

A member of East of Scotland Boccia Club and 2017 Live Borders Celebration of Sport Inspirational Performance winner, Patrick takes his sport, which has similar rules to bowls, very seriously indeed and is keen to stress that, although it is played mainly by “properly disabled” people, Boccia is just as competitive as any other mainstream sport.

“I’m generalising but boccia players are by far and away the most disabled athletes at a Paralympic Games,” he added.

“Some of us, like me, can’t even hold a ball. We use ramps and have on court assistants (who must have their backs to the field of play at all times). So, it’s fair to say that 99% of people who play boccia to international level simply could not play any other sport.”

Despite this Patrick assured us that the rule book is thick enough and boccia is as nuanced as any other sport.

“The main thing that sets boccia apart from all other sports, even within the Paralympics is the athletes,” he continued.

“I think when some people hear or see the severe nature of our impairments, they assume the sport is going to a bit timid, that we may just be happy to finally playing sport properly.

“That’s why they are shocked when they see a top-level event and see just how tense it is. We really, really, really want to win. And that’s understatement. I have played in World opens, European Championships, World Championships and Paralympics and the atmosphere at these tournaments is unique.

“It goes from people shouting at the top of the lungs, just to let their opponent know how good that shot was, to deathly silence before the last ball of a tie-break.  As an athlete, I love being in this tense pressurised environment, it brings the best in me.”

On Saturday, September 30 Live Borders, in partnership with the Borders Disability Sports Group and Scottish Disability Sport, will host their third Open Boccia Championships at the Queen’s Centre in Galashiels and are looking for volunteers to go along and help out on the day.

Live Borders Disability Sports Officer Alan Oliver said: “Boccia is becoming really popular in the Borders and it has expanded dramatically over the past four years, now being played in five areas.

With the Borders Boccia Club going from strength to strength it provides the ideal opportunity to promote the sport in the Borders and to welcome players across the region and beyond.

“It lets the Borders players experience a competitive environment after a long time of practicing and playing games amongst themselves.    

“To hold a National series boccia event in the Borders is an honour and testament to how well Boccia has developed and Patrick’s success on the national stage underlines that further.”

Contact aoliver@liveborders.org.uk for more information on how to get involved in the sport of Boccia or how to volunteer.

Patrick Wilson in action.JPG