London, England— Greece defeated Portugal on Tuesday in the boccia BC3 pairs gold medal match, by four points to one. 2012 is the eighth Paralympics since the introduction of the sport, which is similar to lawn bowls.
The Greek pair Nikolaos Pananos and Grigorios Polychronidis won three sets, and lost one, against Portugal’s Armando Costa and Luis Silva by scores of 2—0, 1—0, 1—0 and 0—1. They enjoyed enthusiastic support from Greek fans repeatedly shouting, “Bravo!” after each took their respective shots. Following the Greek win, supporters broke into rhythmic clapping, continuing their flag-waving and chanting. One of the Greeks competitors rolled his electric wheelchair around, whilst smiling and posing for photos.
Georgian-born Polychronidis holds an accounting degree from the Athens University of Economics and Business. He came into the London Games as a silver medallist from the BC3 individual event at the Beijing Paralympics. Having spinal muscular atrophy, he took up the sport at university where he was introduced to it by George Tzimas.
With London being Pananos’s debut Paralympic Games, he only took up boccia competitively in 2007 and took part in both individual and team events at these Games. Pananos, who has cerebral palsy and is retired, is coached by Andreas Keramidas and plays his club boccia for ASAX Eidiki Olympiada.
Portugal qualified for this match after beating South Korea 4—3 in the semi-finals. The Greeks earned their gold medal round opportunity after beating Belgium who went through pool play undefeated. Portugal won two of their three matches in pool play, losing one, and taking 14 points with only four scored against them. In pool play, Greece won two matches, lost one, and took eight points versus 13 points against them.
Boccia, which is similar to lawn bowls, was first played at the 1984 Summer Paralympics. As a Paralympic sport, it is played by people with cerebral palsy and similar locomotor conditions; players are divided into four different classifications based upon their functional ability.