Boccia: GB's Nigel Murray ready to recreate Beijing memories

By Joshua HallBBC Sport Kick-Off reporter
Murray is one of the most successful GB boccia players

Paralaympic gold medallist Nigel Murray is looking to "recreate memories" on his return to Beijing for boccia's World Championships next month.

Great Britain's Murray, 50, won gold and silver in Beijing in 2008.

"It's been 15 years since my first major and it's just as exciting to be picked," he told BBC Sport.

"Winning gold in Beijing will always be a highlight of my career. Hopefully we can go there and recreate great memories of 2008."

Nigel Murray
Nigel Murray won Team BC1-2 Bronze in the 2012 Paralympics

Great Britain Boccia received more than £3.6m of UK Sport funding through to Rio, and Murray believes that is down to the success and progression of the team.

"UK Sport has seen the work we've done and the rewards that we can also deliver not just at world level but at Paralympic level as well," Leamington Spa-born Murray said.

"The funding that we've received since London from UK Sport has acknowledged what our sport has done, how we have grown and how we have become more professional. The work of our coaches and support staff is second to none."

What is Boccia?
The sport made its Paralympic debut in 1984 and is similar to boules
Each side has six balls and the aim is to get your balls closer to the white target ball, the jack, than your opponent
All athletes have an impairment that affects all four of their limbs
Men and women compete alongside and against each other in the sport

The Championships are set to be the largest event in the sport's history with 180 athletes from 30 federations competing.

For Murray, who could yet compete in a fifth Paralympic Games in Rio, success in Beijing would be a major confidence boost for the team.

"If we are successful it aids and helps the momentum of the team and gives us a lot more confidence moving forward," he said.

"Success in Beijing would be fantastic but regardless of if we get a medal, a lot of hard work will have to be done between 2014 and 2016 in Rio."

Great Britain will be looking to add more medals to the nine they won in events in Montreal and Povoa this summer.

Murray has won two golds, a silver and a bronze in four Paralympic Games and is one of 10 competitors selected for the upcoming World Championships.

Great Britain squad for the World Championships
AthleteClassificationWorld Ranking
David SmithBC11
Nigel MurrayBC25
Joshua RoweBC244
Martin DavisBC257
Jacob ThomasBC38
Scott McCowanBC311
Patrick WilsonBC3N/A
Stephen McGuireBC46
Kieran SteerBC437
Jamie DochertyBC4N/A

The Boccia International Sports Federation (BISFed) formed in 2012 and became the sport's main global governing body in January 2013.

BISFed president David Hadfield believes China is the right country to host the World Championships while also stressing the importance of more competitions taking place.

Since its creation BISFed has attempted to sanction more events between the four-year Paralympic cycle, with eight events across four continents set to take place in 2015.

Hadfield said: "Boccia is growing in Asia, certainly at the highest level of competition, faster than anywhere else, so I think it's fantastic to be holding the event in China.

"It's critical to the growth of any sport to have competitive opportunities and what BISFed has done is increased the schedule enormously.

"We have more than doubled the competitive opportunities, which is good for athletes."

Following the Championships, more than 40 delegates from 30 federations will meet for the first BISFed General Assembly to discuss a host of important issues regarding progressing the sport.

"We aim to continue to professionalise the sport so that it is as well-governed as it possibly can be," Hadfield added.

"Boccia is a relatively new sport and we have built it relatively quickly to a point where it bears comparison to a lot of more mature sports."

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