Saturday 8th October 2016 – [EN]GAGE Sports Centre, Napier University, Edinburgh
Scottish Disability Sport (SDS) were supported by local branch, Lothian Disability Sport (LDS) to deliver the annual Scottish Boccia Open Championships for players out with the bisfed classification, attracting around 60 players to Edinburgh on Saturday 8th October.
The event saw players from across Scotland, as well as entrants from England (Derek Sked) and Northern Ireland (Caroline Millar), compete in sections for players with a physical disability (class A), players with a learning disability (class B, male and female) and a junior section for players under the age of 16. The large entry allowed for some excellent competition throughout the day in all sections, providing players the opportunity to test themselves against their peers from across the country – some renewing old rivalries and some experiencing the competitive stage for the first time. This competitive element was particularly evident in class B as numbers allowed for four groups in both male and female categories, meaning that the group winner only would qualify for the semi final stage – this was tough for some players who managed to claim a number of victories and were disappointed as first place was decided on shots difference. Lothian continued their proud record of dominance in the female section as Jodie Lavin (Lothian Special Olympics) defeated experienced campaigner Kirsty McCallum (No Limits, Lothian) in a tightly contested final, 3-2. Philippa Robertson (Lothian Special Olympics) produced some excellent shots in the bronze medal match, defeating Harriet Davis 6-5 meaning that the region recorded a clean sweep in the medal stakes. James Muirhead of Kirkriggs Boccia Club adapted superbly to the transition between junior to senior competition, claiming an impressive victory in the male class B section at the first time of asking – narrowly defeating Tayside Special Olympics player David Carlin in a tie break after the players were locked at 3-3 after four ends. Forth Valley’s Darren Rooney proved victorious in the 3rd/4th place play off, defeating Scott Bruce (Lothian Special Olympics) 4-3 in another display of impressive boccia.
Class A provided a slightly more UK-wide feel as entrants from England and Northern Ireland supplemented the entry from across Scotland. Last year’s winner Derek Sked (England) replicated the form from 12 months ago to claim victory in convincing fashion with a 7-0 win against Northern Ireland’s Caroline Millar at the final stage meaning he would take the gold medal across the border once again. The bronze medal match was contested by two East of Scotland Boccia club players as Heather Nicolson and Adam Stafford battled out a closely contested match with Nicolson building on her victory at last weekend’s Borders Boccia competition to claim victory 6-3.
The junior category was another hotly contested section with Dumfries & Galloway player Morgan Deer displaying consistent and impressive form throughout, culminating in a 6-5 win against Michael Gilhooly (Kirkriggs Boccia Club) in the section final. Calum Thomson capped off an enjoyable day, defeating Kaitlin Dow 6-4 in the bronze medal match. Additionally, the most improved junior is also recognised at these championships with Dundee Boccia Club working closely with clubs across the country to identify a youngster who has developed their game over the previous 12 months. This year’s selected recipient of the shield was Patrick Boyce of Kirkriggs Boccia Club.
The championships were supported superbly by the staff at [EN]GAGE who provided an excellent environment for players to express themselves on the court. Thanks is also extended to the dedicated and knowledgeable band of officials who allowed the day to run smoothly from start to finish, alongside announcer Richard Mann whose expertise on the microphone added to the atmosphere throughout. Lastly, the clubs, coaches and players continue to support the event in their numbers and continue to produce the performances that seem to make the event a greater