Larne’s Claire Taggart looking forward to competing at Tokyo games
Larne Boccia star Claire Taggart is preparing for her second Paralympics after being selected to represent Team GB in Tokyo.
Claire will be part of a nine-strong Boccia team representing the UK at the postponed 2020 games this summer.
The east Antrim woman became the first Boccia athlete from Northern Ireland to win a British Championship, securing the title in the BC2 classification in 2018.
Speaking to the Times following her selection for this year’s Paralympic Games, Claire said: “I’m delighted to have been selected for my second Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
“As a para-athlete it is the pinnacle of our career, and the biggest tournament every four years. With that comes nerves, but also excitement, but nevertheless I am looking forward to competitions again, as it has been almost two years since our last competition due to the pandemic.
“I honestly believe that due to Covid anything could happen with regards to medals and results. All that matters to me, my coach, teammates and family is that I go out there and do what I can to deliver my best performance.”
During the pandemic Claire was fortunate to be able to keep training in Larne
She explained: “As someone with a severe physical disability, Covid-19 meant that I was in the shielding categories, which basically lasted until I received my two vaccinations.
“This was not ideal for preparing for the postponed games, but I have been extremely lucky to be able to access a training hall in The Cliff, Seacourt from June 2020 onwards as the sole user of the site - therefore making it really safe for myself to train.”
The games will be staged in Japan from August 24 until September 5. Claire, who will be travelling with her dad, has said she cannot wait to compete again.
She added: “My dad travels with me as my sports assistant, so we will begin our journey to Japan around the middle of August to have time to acclimatise and adjust to the jet lag and the heat and humidity.
“I’m looking forward to competitng most - there is nothing like the tension of Boccia, and Ive really missed the buzz of competing.”
Offering advice to any other aspiring para-athletes from across the province, Claire stated: “Find your sport. I’d highly recommend reaching out to Disability Sport NI, who can help you look at different options of sports and refer you onwards to clubs etc.
“Boccia is a developing sport within the UK and there are opportunities coming up thick and fast to find more athletes for the Paris 2024 games. Check out their website for details.
“Thank you to everyone who has supported me and my family in making my selection for Tokyo become a reality.”
Click here to read Hill excited ahead of Tokyo Olympic Games
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