The top seeds sailed through their pool matches as day one of the 2018 World Boccia Championships got underway on Sunday (12 August) in Liverpool, Great Britain.
It was a tactical masterclass from Great Britain’s BC4 player Stephen McGuire in his second pool match of the day. The world No. 1 defeated Spain’s Vasile Agache 12-0 to follow up on a 12-1 victory over the USA’s Kevin Stokes.
“From start to finish, it was probably the best I’ve ever played,” McGuire said. “To do so in front of a home crowd with that support was just amazing. Tomorrow (Monday), I’ve got one more group game against the second seed in my pool, Ivan Frolov of Russia*. The last few matches I’ve played against him have been quite close so I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
McGuire’s compatriot and reigning Paralympic champion David Smith also enjoyed a straightforward first day, beating South Korea’s Sungjoon Jung 9-0 in the BC1 pool.
“I knew he would be a better opponent than his ranking suggested because he is Korean and they are a strong nation,” Smith said. “It was tough because we had no previous knowledge of his style of play or tactics. I just had to play sensibly and wait for my chances to score. I have two games tomorrow. One win will be enough to see me through but I want two wins to secure the top spot and the best draw in the last 16.”
World No. 1s in the BC3 and BC2 classes also prevailed.
Greece’s BC3 Rio 2016 Paralympic silver medallist Greg Polychronidis won both his matches, putting him in a good position for day two’s action. He powered past Hong Kong’s Wing Tung Liu 10-1 and then cruised over Colombia’s Jesus Romero.
“All the games are still in front of us so I have to give my best,” Polychronidis said. “Every game is like a final to me because all opponents are very good. The quality of players is so high. If you make one mistake you can lose the game so I stay as focussed as possible.”
Thailand’s Watcharaphon Vongsa beat out his teammate Pattaya Tadtong 7-2 to tally a victory in the BC2 side.
The competition continues with pool play on Monday, and runs until Saturday (18 August).
*Editor’s note: The International Paralympic Committee suspended the Russian Paralympic Committee on 7 August 2016 for its inability to fulfil its IPC membership responsibilities and obligations, in particular its obligation to comply with the IPC Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Code (to which it is also a signatory). As a result of the suspension, Russian athletes cannot enter IPC sanctioned events or competitions, including the Paralympic Games.