TEENAGE boccia player Louis Saunders is the youngest member of the British squad for this year’s world championships.
Bognor Regis resident Louis, 16, is juggling training for the important event with his GCSE studies.
He even manages to squeeze in the time to help run a boccia club in what is left of his spare time.
He trains four or five times a week. He plays at school, at home and anywhere else that he can against anyone willing to give him a game. He made his international debut last year.
“I like boccia,” he said, “because there is so much to it – when to attack?, when to defend?, what shot to defend, lob? or knock on?
“But you also need the technical ability to pull off your desired shot.”
Saunders is the youngest member of the ten-strong squad announced by Boccia UK in advance of the contest with the world’s other top teams.
The BISFed 2018 World Boccia Championships take place at Liverpool’s Exhibition Centre August 12-18.
The Brits will be joined by about 180 other athletes from 32 nations spread across the planet.
They will descend on Liverpool to battle it out for world titles as well as ranking points ahead of the Tokyo Paralympics in 2020.
Helen Nicholls, Boccia UK’s recently-appointed performance director, said: “The squad is approaching the event with high hopes and confidence.
“While the line-up includes previous Paralympic and world medallists such as David Smith MBE and Stephen McGuire, it also contains athletes looking to make their mark and deliver significant performances on the world stage, demonstrating a real strength in depth across the four classifications.
“The British team will face significant international challenges in its mission to leave Liverpool with medals and titles.
“However, each player selected has demonstrated the dedication, skill and commitment required to put themselves in the place where they can challenge for a position on the podium, which is ultimately what elite sport is all about.
“The next eight weeks will be about ensuring each selected player can enter the championships with the best possible preparation to deliver what they are capable of when it really matters.”
McGuire is one of seven Paralympians in the squad. Fresh from winning two gold medals at the Montreal Boccia World Open, he is world number one in the sport’s BC4 classification and is aiming to defend his world title in Liverpool.
He believes Great Britain can beat the rest of the world by topping the medal table at the championships.
“It will be incredibly tough,” he said. “We will need to keep our discipline and focus but we have the athletes to do it.
“Britain has the strongest unity I have witnessed over my ten years and counting of being involved in the squad.
“We push each other across every classification on a daily basis and I believe this has led to our success over the past few seasons.”
Another squad member, David Smith, can boast four Paralympics medals. They include individual gold from Rio in 2016. He added European champion to his long list of titles in 2017.