Locals eye Paralympics

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 August, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 August, 2009, 12:00am

Hong Kong's boccia squad is determined to qualify for the 2012 London Paralympics after an encouraging performance at the third Asia and South Pacific Boccia Championships last week.

The competition was held at the Kowloon Park Sports Centre from August 14 to 22. It received a HK$2.14 million grant from the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust.

Hong Kong came second behind South Korea, claiming six medals - two gold, one silver and three bronze medals.

The squad is now eyeing the Boccia World Championships, to be held in Lisbon, Portugal, next year, which is also a qualifier for the London Paralympics.

Kwok Chun-hoi made a memorable debut at Kowloon Park. He won the Jockey Club Outstanding Novice Award after taking second place in the BC2 event.

Leung Yuk-wing, 24, who won two golds in singles and doubles events, said: 'It was a heated contest and China fielded some very strong players but we were able to persevere and do well. Now we're preparing for the Boccia World Championships next year.'

Karen Kwok Hoi-ying, who won gold for Hong Kong in the individual BC2 at the Beijing Paralympics last year, said China, South Korea and Thailand would be their toughest opponents.

Daily training sessions have strengthened those teams and they have shown tremendous improvement over the past few tournaments, she said.

The territory is ranked fourth in the World Boccia Team Class BC1 and BC2 events and fifth in Class BC4.

Players from Brazil and South Korea dominated the Beijing Paralympics.

Boccia is a sport for athletes who require a wheelchair because of physical disability. It can be played by individuals, pairs or teams of three, and all events are mixed gender.

The sport, originally designed for people suffering from cerebral palsy, is one of the fastest-growing Paralympic sports. Now, more than 50 countries conduct competitive training programmes in boccia.