This afternoon we welcome the supporters, officials and players of Ipswich Town to the Abbey Stadium. In the past the clubs have mostly played each other in Friendlies and Testimonial matches. The sides have rarely met in League matches. However, there are many people who have strong interest and bond with both sides. Ipswich supporters assisted with the collection we held for Justin Edinburgh and have helped the Cambridge United many times over the years. Their SLO Liz Edwards is someone who is always willing to offer help and advice to me when it is required.
During the summer we were probably all excited by the Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo. Over many seasons I have been fortunate to meet Will Hipwell on match days. Will took part in Tokyo as part of the Great Britain Boccia Squad and his experiences taking part are below. -:
The idea of the game is simple. One side has six red balls and the other six blue balls. The aim is to get your balls closer to the white target ball, the 'jack', than your opponent.
To start an end, one side will throw the jack. They will then throw their first ball trying to get it as close as possible. The other side then attempts to throw their ball closer. After that, the side whose ball is not closest to the jack throws the next ball. Once all balls have been played, points are awarded. The side that is closest to the jack receives a point for every ball they have nearer than their opponent’s closest ball.
I’ve been a member of the GB Boccia squad since 2015. Having missed out on selections for the Paralympics in Rio in 2016, this was my debut Paralympic Games. It was really good experience. I arrived the week before the competition started, which helped me to acclimatise to the temperature and time difference. When I first got there, I kept waking up at 2am – but eventually I was able to settle into my surroundings at the athlete’s village.
I was also able to train at the venue, which helped me get used to the court surface and prepare for the competition.
Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 restrictions, we had to stay in the athlete’s village so couldn’t really take in the sights of Tokyo.
I competed in both the individual and Team competition. My first game was against the world champion which was an exciting challenge – and my first ball of the whole competition was perfect, which gave me a boost!
Whilst I didn’t win any of my individual matches I scored points in all but my first one. My opponents from Slovakia and Belgium were well known to me having played them in previous competitions, I had a game plan for all of my matches.
In the Team competition we came close to beating China who are a very good team. We were drawing 7-7 going into the last end but they played some world class shots to win the match 11-7.
We then lost to Thailand but in the process, we gained a valuable insight into how they play which will hopefully stand us in good stead for the next Paralympics in Paris in 2024!
We won against Argentina which was a great achievement as last time we played them was at the World Championships in 2018 and they won that game so it felt good to get revenge!
Unfortunately, we lost our final group game against Russia. It was disappointing not to finish on a high. There are still aspects of our game that, as a team we need to improve but we were all happy with our overall performance.
I wanted to go to Tokyo and give it my best shot, which I did, so from that point of view I achieved what I wanted.
When I got home I attended Channel 4’s Paralympics GB Athletes’ Homecoming show! It was a great event, all the athletes met up at the Hilton hotel beforehand where the Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave a speech and congratulated everyone on our achievements.
Then we went to Wembley Arena and lined up backstage and had the chance to enter the arena in front of a full crowd! Made me realise just how much support there is for the Paralympics! Adam Hills and Josh Widdicombe interviewed some of the Paralympians, which was great to watch.
I want to say a big thank you to Cambridge United for their support. I was delighted to receive tweets from Mark Bonner, Greg Taylor and Harrison Dunk wishing me good luck.
We don’t have to achieve the heights that Will has, but we can all take part in some of the wellbeing activities that the Cambridge United Community Trust offer follow the link for more information about these https://www.cuctrust.co.uk/
Please look after yourself and enjoy following the team home and away this season.
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