Larne Paralympian wins two golds at World Cup

Larne Paralympian Claire Taggart is looking ahead to December’s World Boccia Championships with an extra boost of confidence after winning two gold medals at the World Cup in Povoa, Portugal.

Claire had cemented her position as one of the world’s strongest boccia players, claiming her first-ever World Cup last week.

Unbeaten all week, she stormed through the individual pool matches with a 5-1 win over Ana Correia of Portugal and then she saw off Slovakia’s Kristina Kudlacova 9-3.

Meeting Vivien Nagy at the quarter final stages, she forced the Hungarian out of the competition with an incredible 13-0 victory before eliminating China’s Hiu Lam Yeung 6-1.

Claire was unbeaten during her time in Portugal.

She faced Correia again in the final, a repeat of her opening match. It went to 2-2 but Claire won on tie-break.

Her triumph in Povoa will surely see her rise in the world rankings from her current number three position.

And to top her success in the individual competition, she went on to win gold in the BC1/2 team event with David Smith OBE and Will Hipwell.

Claire said: “I’m beyond delighted to win my first ever World Cup and to do it here in Portugal with my dad and all my teammates is amazing. I’m just so proud of all the work I’ve put in and I’m so grateful for all the support my teammates, my coach Glynn (Tromans) and support staff have given me.”

After the success in the team event, Smith said: “We came into 2022 with the aim of moving up the rankings, slowly improving to the top four. We were under no illusions what it was going to take. Povoa was to a stepping stone and we were aiming for a top eight finish.

“We decided we needed to focus on our consistency, shot after shot, which would enable us to be brave with our shots and decisions. I’m so proud of what we have achieved. It’s easily one of my career highlights. I hope that with a successful Boccia UK team, it inspires more team competition at national level.”

The achievement is set to help lift the British BC1/2 team’s world ranking ahead of the World Championships in Brazil in December.

Congratulating Claire, a spokesperson for Larne Football Club said: “A massive congratulations to our disability access officer Claire Taggart who has just won gold at the Boccia World Cup in Povoa. What an incredible achievement by a local sporting hero.”

Commenting on social media, a spokesperson for Boccia UK said: “Well done David Smith, Will Hipwell and Claire Taggart - who wins her second gold at this tournament.”

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Claire, who was the first boccia athlete from Northern Ireland to win a British Championship (2018), was also part of a nine-strong team representing Team GB at the postponed 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo last summer.