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Boccia, which means ‘ball’ in Italian, was initially designed for people with cerebral palsy. It is now played by athletes who have any kind of neurological impairment that affects their motor function.
The sport made its Paralympic debut at New York 1984, when 19 athletes represented five different countries. Now, Boccia is practised in more than 50 countries worldwide with 108 athletes competing at the Rio 2016 Games. The sport has similarities to bowls, boules and petanque and, like Goalball, is unique to the Paralympic Games.
At the Tokyo 2020 Games, David Smith retained his individual BC1 Paralympic title becoming Britian's most successful boccia player ever. He went on to be ParalympicsGB's flagbearer at the closing ceremony. There were seven medal events at the Tokyo Games: four individual, two pair and one team. The rules are adjusted depending on the class, such as allowing the ball to be kicked by athletes who are unable to throw it with their hands, providing support from an event assistant, or using an inclined ramp to roll the ball. Read more on the Tokyo 2020 website.
Boccia UK is the sport's National Governing Body. Find out more on the Boccia UK website.