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The Ball is in Your Court

Tom Williams is talking Boccia

How’s your sports trivia knowledge? Try this question.

Can you name the only Welsh woman ever to place in the top three in the BBC UK Sports Personality of the Year awards?

She finished third in the year 2000, behind Olympic champions Steve Redgrave and Denise Lewis, the same year she won the second of her three Welsh Sports Personality of the Year titles.

The answer, of course, is Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson. It’s worth making a comparison with Redgrave. He was a famously ferocious and focused competitor, qualities that spurred him to four Olympic titles. Those of us who’ve met both of them know the fire burns just as brightly in Grey-Thompson. She was just as great a champion as Redgrave, some of us would say greater, because she hated losing just as much as he did. Spina bifida confined her to a wheelchair, but nothing could confine her to an ordinary life, and there’s nothing ordinary about winning eleven – eleven – Paralympic gold medals.

There’s nothing ordinary about Tom Williams, either, and this Spring he’s sharing his enthusiasm for sport with his friend and neighbours around Swansea.

Boccia has been a Paralympic sport since 1984, and 75 countries around the world have national Boccia organisations. Tom is an accomplished ambassador for the sport in Swansea, and interest is growing. Last October, the UK Boccia Championships were held at the Swansea LC, and the event was a resounding success.

The game can be played by individuals, pairs, or teams of three. Women and men compete side by side, throwing leather balls – red for one team, blue for the other - as close as possible to the white target ball, which is thrown first, similarly to bowls.

The balls can be dispatched with the hands or feet, or if necessary via a ramp. Competition can be fierce. Tom enjoys winning, of course, and what he enjoys most is sharing his expertise and enthusiasm with people who are new to the game. Over the coming months Tom will be organising information sessions, and the People’s Library will work alongside him to help spread the word.

If you’d like to find out more about this growing sport, or if you know someone else who might, contact us at and we’ll connect you with the man with the knowledge. Tom Williams is talking Boccia, and we’re listening. You should listen too.


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