It’s onwards to Tokyo for David Smith MBE after a magnificent performance in Liverpool saw the Paralympic gold medallist crowned BC1 world boccia champion.
The world No.1 stole the show to take an emphatic victory on home courts, overcoming China’s Kai Sun 7-2 in the final to win his third individual world title – 11 years on from his first.
Smith had led 7-0 in the contest to reaffirm his domination, his second victory in the day after a narrow 5-4 victory over Witsanu Huadpradit in order to reach the gold-medal match.
That was far from his only tough test in Liverpool, needing a nerve-shredding tiebreak to take his place in the last four against Japan’s Takumi Nakamura, on Tuesday.
But after holding his own and then some to have the home crowd celebrating, Smith believes the tough matches actually worked in his favour as the competition developed – simply revelling in an experience he hopes others around the world can learn from.
“It means everything to win, the crowd have been awesome and I’ve really enjoyed it,” he said.
“The layout has been spectacular, this is how boccia should be done and I hope the rest of the world take note.
“We’ve loved it and it’s been superb, the hotel and the venue are both great and the courts are quite cool as well.
“I’ve been in top form which helps, I’ve had a few shaky moments along the way which helped me for the final.
“It was just a nice game to be in and now I’m very happy – now it’s onwards to Tokyo.”
Before attentions turn to Tokyo 2020 and the next Paralympic Games, Smith – who became individual champion for the first time at Rio 2016 – with the teams and pairs competitions getting under way on Thursday.
Boccia UK Performance Director Helen Nicholls added: “It is fantastic to see David deliver what he is capable of and take the World title, especially under the pressure and with the significance of performing in front of a home crowd.
“The tournament has been highly, highly competitive so far with brutal matches in the knock out rounds where the athletes had bring their A game from the very first ball.”