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Paralympics ‘exciting but terrifying’ for Taggart

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Claire Taggart

Claire Taggart in action for Great Britain (Getty Images)

World number one Claire Taggart says she is determined to “enjoy the experience” of the Paralympic Games after being named in Great Britain’s boccia team for Paris.

The 29-year-old Northern Irishman will be taking part in her third Paralympic Games, making her debut in Rio in 2016 before competing again in the BC2 class in Tokyo five years later during the Covid pandemic.

Taggart’s long list of successes includes a memorable 2022 when he won the World Championship and two Boccia World Cup gold medals.

He is relishing the opportunity to test his skills against the rest of the world at the Games, which begin on August 28.

“It’s really exciting but scary at the same time – having the Games so close to home and being able to compete and represent the Paralympic Games for Great Britain,” said the Larne athlete.

“Tokyo was different, it was not a terrible experience and my results were not excellent. I think the experience of being in a pandemic and the experience of being a Paralympic Games was something I will never forget. I hope Paris is much better.”

Taggart believes there is still much to do to increase awareness of the Paralympic Games.

“Everyone says ‘you’re going to the Olympics’ or ‘you’re an Olympian’, sometimes the Paralympics are left behind and don’t have the same coverage,” he added.

“I am very proud to be a Paralympic athlete, not an Olympian and I will always correct strangers or the public who ask. It is an exclusive club when you and very few people around the world represent your country in a sport that you are good at, It’s something really special.”

Taggart also maintains that the sport of boccia still does not receive the coverage it deserves.

“We are training just as hard, if not harder, facing more adversity due to disability, ability and the inequalities of being disabled; we are doing as much, if not more, than other Olympic and Paralympic athletes.

“Coverage and knowledge of the sport has improved but we still have a long way to go. I haven’t stopped this year, I’ve been around the world at least twice. I’m a person with a severe physical disability. “It’s exhausting, But it’s what I do for the love of my sport.”

Taggart will be among the favorites for the medal in Paris, but she has no goal set.

“I would like to go to the Games and play the best I can at that exact moment and come out knowing that I have left everything on the court.

“If I say ‘I want to win a medal,’ it puts more pressure on me. I already have enough pressure to be number one and I just need to go there, enjoy the experience and see what happens.”

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