GB, Belgium and Slovakia claim automatic slots to Rio!
3 more entry slots have been filled after 2 intense days of competition in Surrey, Great Britain. The nations have guaranteed their place at the games as well as secure themselves the title of European Champions.
Hosts and pre-competition favourites, Great Britain, didn’t have everything go their own way during the pools. The team from Spain beat them 5-4 and followed it up with further victories against Netherlands and Israel to ensure they finished top of the pool. That left the GB team with an awkward semi-final tie against Portugal who hadn’t been troubled in their first 3 games. The hosts came out flying and raced into a 5-0 lead, and despite closing the gap in the later stages GB held on to their lead and secured a place in the final after almost 2 hours of play.
The runners up of pool B, Slovakia, also went on to beat the winners of their corresponding pool and set up final with GB. Slovakia dominated proceeding in their game with Spain coming out 8-2 winners, a defeat that left Spain to face Portugal in the bronze medal match. Portugal won 10-3 to ensure they didn’t leave empty handed and the final went to the wire with GB eventually leaving with the gold medal after a narrow 5-4 victory against Slovakia.
The BC3 Pair event was perhaps the most open event we have seen in recent times. World number 1’s, Great Britain, were eliminated during the group stages after defeats to both France and Belgium and World number 2’s, Portugal followed the same fate after finishing 3rd behind Greece and Spain. Narrow victories for Spain (4-3) and Belgium (3-2) set up a mouthwatering final and left France and Greece battling for the bronze. It was Greece who held their nerve to ensure they were part of the medal ceremony after beating the French side 4-2.
Most spectators anticipated an equally tight final, however the Belgian pair were too strong for Spain and romped to a 7-1 victory to claim gold.
It looked certain that the hosts would take gold in the BC4 event. 7-1, 5-2 and 11-1 victories proceeded a 10-0 victory against Russia in the semi finals set up a final against Slovakia in a repeat of the BC1/BC2 Team competition. The Slovakian team had lost to GB during the pools but sought revenge by narrowly beating the hosts 4-3 in the final. Hungary went on to take home the bronze after a nail biting game to decide the eventual winner.
In total 7 nations went home with medals, amplifying the strength of Boccia in Europe ahead of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. There is now a short 2 week break until the 2015 Parapan American Games start in Toronto…
BC1/BC2 Team – GB, Slovakia, Portugal
BC3 Pair – Belgium, Spain, Greece
BC4 Pair – Slovakia, GB, Hungary