Stephen McGuire’s Rio 2016 Paralympic hopes

Via the Daily Record

World boccia champion Stephen McGuire expects a ‘carnival’ atmosphere when the Paralympic Games start in Rio in September.

The Hamilton ace is part of a 10-strong boccia team that was announced by the British Paralympic Association (BPA), and although he has known for some time that he was heading to Rio, McGuire (32) admits the excitement is building.

“I knew three weeks before, because they need to leave room for appeals and things like that, but it has been rubber-stamped and that’s great to know,” said Stephen.

“It does increase the excitement. It has been an interesting week, as I got the news and I was straight down to London, where we heard a lot of inspirational and motivational speeches.

“We’re part of a wider team and it’s amazing. There were a lot of Scots there, including Gordon Reid who just won the wheelchair tennis at Wimbledon.

“When one person wins a medal the momentum grows and the camaraderie is amazing. There is that bond.

“When we go to play abroad as Team GB there are 10 of us, but there are over 200 athletes this time.”

Stephen anticipates some fierce competition in boccia, which runs from September 10-16 (the Paralympics runs from September 7-18), and is eager to get going.

“I’m looking forward to the atmosphere; London 2012 was pretty traditional and in my head at least Rio is going to be a carnival. I’m looking forward to the crowds, the atmosphere, and it will be great to be part of it.

“Boccia is really big over in Brazil, we’re going to be playing in a 10,000 all-seater stadium, and I’m told it will be full. I hope we get to play them, actually, because they’re really good.”

Reigning BC4 World champion and pairs BC4 European Pairs champion McGuire is confident of doing well in Rio, and is pleased with what he has accomplished thus far.

He said: “I think you have to be confident when you go into something like this.

“Personally, I’ve done very well this year; I’ve won the World Championship and the Czech Open, and I took bronze from the World Open in Portugal, so there will be chances there.

“This is my second Paralympic Games, and to be honest there is no greater privilege than to represent Great Britain.

“When I started out, my dream was to get to a Paralympic Games, but this is my second, and I’ve won medals at the highest level.

“At London 2012 I was so close to a Paralympics medal, and that’s what keeps me going, so hopefully this time I can achieve it.”

Team leader Matt Hammond said: “The team is as strong as it has ever been and these athletes have been pushed throughout the qualifications period to deliver the performance needed to secure their place.”

Via the Daily Record

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