Paralympic debut for Larne athlete Claire Taggart

Claire Taggart. INLT 11-240-AM
Claire Taggart. INLT 11-240-AM

A Larne woman has been named in Great Britain’s 10-strong boccia squad for the Rio Paralympic Games in September.

Claire Taggart made her first appearance onto the GB Boccia squad in 2015 and has gone from strength to strength.

The Rio Games will be Claire’s first Paralympic Games.

The 21-year-old, who suffers from dystonia – a condition that contracts the muscles in her body forcing them into fixed abnormal positions – is already a bronze medal winner at European level.

And she will be looking to add to her achievements alongside her fellow GB team mates in the BC1/BC2 team event.

A record number of athletes from Northern Ireland have been selected for the Rio2016 Paralympic Games.

Athletes, including London 2012 medallist Michael McKillop from Glengormley, will travel to Rio to showcase their talents on the world’s largest sporting stage from September 7-18.

The athletes, who will compete under Paralympics Ireland or Paralympics GB will be aiming to continue on from the success of the London 2012 Games where Northern Ireland Paralympians secured seven medals.

Boccia is a Paralympic-specific sport similar to boules, which requires deep tactical nuance as well as incredible accuracy and control from its athletes. Games can be nail-bitingly tense with the result often not decided until the final ball is thrown. As a result, athletes have to maintain intense concentration if they want to come out on top.

There are four categories - BC1 players can kick/throw the ball, BC2 and BC4 players throw it, while BC3 players use a ramp to deliver the ball.

Claire started playing the sport with Ballygally Boccia Club in the village hall.

She competed at international level for the first time in May 2014 in the GB Boccia Championships, finishing 10th overall in the BC4 category.