David Smith looking to defend world boccia title

By Jessica LlewellynBBC Sport Wales
David Smith boccia
David Smith first tried the sport of boccia aged just six. It was a slow start, as he admitted that for five years he did not win an end (a boccia match is made up of four of them)

Britain's most successful boccia player is looking to defend his title at the 2022 World Boccia Championships.

David Smith OBE has been selected as part of the nine-strong Great Britain squad that competes from Saturday, 3 December in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

The 33-year old has been competing since the 2003 British Championships.

"My aim is to try and defend my title... I'm feeling pretty dominant this year so I'm looking to try and keep that momentum going," he said.

Smith OBE, who is based in Swansea, started competing at boccia 19 years ago and has since gone on to become Paralympic Champion, World Champion and European Champion.

Boccia is a target sport played indoors with soft leather balls and has no Olympic equivalent.

Upon his GB selection Smith said: "I've been doing it for so long I kind of expect to be selected, but you've got to earn your place, I think I've done enough to get selected.

"The only way is down so for me it is just a case of trying to maintain that number one."

Smith competes in boccia's BC1 category, one of four classifications determined by the severity of the athletes' disability.

BC1 athletes have severe activity limitations affecting their legs, arms and trunk, and are typically dependent on a powered wheelchair.

Although Smith has had an incredibly successful career so far, leaving a legacy within the sport is also important to him.

"I enjoy playing, I enjoy winning, I enjoy competing, but the end result is not so important for me anymore, it's more about when I do eventually decide to retire, are there people who are able to replace me?

"What would be a shame is that if I was to retire and then the sport falls off a cliff."

The sport's funding relies on athletes winning medals at competitions, so it is Smith's goal to get more people involved in it.

"My aim now is community sport, getting boccia played in every primary school in the UK and then building that. Ideally I want boccia to be played by everybody not just people with disabilities," he told BBC Sport Wales.

When asked what improvements he would like to see within the sport Smith replied: "Development of new players, more tournaments and a league structure... focusing on the whole sport coming up through the ranks."

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