World Boccia Championships: Great Britain lose team final

Claire Taggart and David Smith
Taggart (left) had been hoping to add to the singles gold medal she claimed in Rio on Saturday

Northern Ireland’s Claire Taggart says she is “delighted” to be coming home as a boccia world champion, but admits missing out on a second gold medal in Rio was “gutting”.

Taggart and Great Britain team-mates David Smith and Will Hipwell lost to South Korea in Tuesday’s team final.

Larne’s Taggart had already won the singles title in the BC2 category.

“I didn’t expect it (winning a world title) at all. It’s been an amazing championship,” said Taggart.

After defeating Argentina 10-1 in their semi-final, Taggart, Smith and Hipwell raced into a 4-0 lead in the decider.

However, South Korea picked up four points in the fourth end to level the match and they moved clear with two points in the fifth end.

The GB team pulled one back in a tense final end but fell short by one point.

“We should be really pleased with how we have played,” added Taggart.

“I guess in a sense of reality it is gutting that we were so close but yet so far, but it will give us fight for another day.”

‘Not the time to get complacent’

Taggart made history by becoming the first person from Northern Ireland to compete at the Paralympics in boccia at Rio in 2016, and went to participate again at the delayed Tokyo Paralympics in 2021.

“It’s exciting going into the 2024 Paralympics in Paris as world champion but it’s not the time to get complacent or look beyond next year,” said Taggart.

“I think next year we focus on the events that are coming around; there’s Europeans and aiming to qualify as well through the team, but Paris looks great and I can’t wait to fight the journey to get there.”

In July, Taggart secured her first World Cup titles in Portugal, winning individual gold before helping Great Britain clinch BC1/2 team gold.

Englishman Smith, who is now based in Swansea, is Britain’s most successful boccia player with three Paralympic gold medals.

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