World Boccia Championship: David Smith keen to make home advantage count

Boccia player David Smith
Smith won the BC1 individual world title in Beijing in 2014

Rio Paralympic champion David Smith believes home advantage will be key at this summer's World Boccia Championship in Liverpool.

The biggest boccia competition since London 2012 will take place from 12-18 August at the city's Exhibition Centre.

Tickets are on sale for the event, which is set to attract 190 players from 33 countries.

"For us as athletes, it's a huge coup that it is taking place on home turf," said Smith, who won BC1 gold in Rio.

"Support from a home crowd means everything - we felt it in London 2012 and it was spectacular - and I truly believe that knowing the crowd is willing you on really can lift your performance to another level."

Boccia, which has no Olympic counterpart, is for athletes with conditions like severe cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy which affects all four limbs.

Similar to boules, both sides have six balls and the aim of the game is to get your balls closer to the white target ball, the jack, than your opponent.

Smith, from Hampshire but now based in Swansea, won Britain's only boccia medal in Rio and followed that up at last year's Europeans with another gold in his BC1 category while there were also individual golds for Jamie McCowan (BC3) and Stephen McGuire, who will be defending his BC4 world title in Liverpool.

"Liverpool is a city renowned for top level elite sport," said McGuire. "Half of my family live there and this event provides the best opportunity for them to come and support me as I defend my title."

As well as the elite competition, there will also be a family-friendly sports festival showcasing the sport and opportunities for spectators to try it out.

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