Paralympic gold medallist Dan Bentley is trying not to laugh. I have joined the GB boccia player in training at his gym in Great Dunmow, Essex, and have just rolled my third blue ball miles wide of the jack. He knows he is about to clean up, and with three swift shots he knocks my paltry efforts off the court and creates a circle of red balls around the jack, leaving me with nothing.
Anyone channel-hopping through the Paralympic coverage this morning may stumble across a sport which at first glance looks not very sporty at all. At 9am, a line of three Britons and three Argentinians will be sitting stationary in electric wheelchairs occasionally rolling red and blue leather balls along the floor of the ExCel centre.
Don’t let appearances deceive you. This is boccia (pronounced to rhyme with “gotcha”), a game as strategic as chess and as tricky as snooker. It is an adapted version of boules or pétanque, played by those with disabilities that affect their motor skills, such as cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy.