Paralympic gold medal winner inspires at Yate Boccia club

October 22 2021
Paralympic gold medal winner inspires at Yate Boccia club

ONE of Britain's most successful Paralympians paid a visit to an accessible sports club to inspire members.

David Smith's Boccia gold medal at the Tokyo Paralympics was his third in the sport, having first competed at Beijing in 2008.

The sport's national governing body Boccia England chose the GEM Boccia Club in Yate for David to visit as part of National Boccia Day in September.

The club was set up by Georgina Moore, who won a BBC Sports Personality Unsung Hero Award in 2019 for her work setting up an inclusive Boccia sports club in Yate.

Georgina, who has a severe physical disability, grew up in Frampton Cotterell but now lives independently in Chipping Sodbury, supported by carers. She sometimes trains at Crossbow House in Frampton Cotterell.

The event was attended by 14 members of the club and David took time to meet them all.

People at the GEM Boccia Club had a chance to hold David Smith's gold medal from the Tokyo Paralympics - pictures above and top courtesy of Rich McD Photography

Georgina said: "Everyone was really excited to see David at our session. 

"David spent the session watching our members do National Boccia Day activities, then he did a demonstration and answered questions from everyone.

"Finally he had his photograph taken with every single member. He told us all about his experience in Tokyo and winning the gold medal. He even passed around the gold medal so we could all touch it! 

"Our members were so excited and inspired by David’s visit. It’s so important for them to see someone they can relate to who’s achieved their dreams – especially as David explained how, when he started playing he wasn’t very good at it for a long time. Now he's a Paralympic Champion.

"It gives members the passion and drive to believe they can achieve things, despite their disability. They loved being able to see the gold medal up close and having their photograph with David meant so much to them."

Georgina said a lot of the club's members had watched David, who has cerebral palsy, win gold in Tokyo.

She said: "It was fantastic to see Channel 4 stream his final match live on TV. Boccia got more media exposure than ever during this year's Paralympics but we still have a long way to go.

"Disabled people need to see sports that are fully inclusive because they are still massively disadvantaged when it comes to playing a sport.

"That’s why I set up GEM Boccia Club to bring a fully inclusive sport to my local community that’s accessible to all. So to see David at our local club was hugely inspiring." 

Anyone who would like to try Boccia can come for a free taster session to GEM Boccia Club, which meets every Tuesday from 4-6pm at Yate Active Centre Sports Hall. 

David Smith with members of the GEM Boccia Club - picture courtesy of Rich McD Photography