Evie aims high on Paralympic debut

RIO BOUND: Evie Edwards from Elmsett has been selected in the Team GB squad for the Paralympic Games
RIO BOUND: Evie Edwards from Elmsett has been selected in the Team GB squad for the Paralympic Games
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She may have already achieved an extraordinary amount in her young career, but Evie Edwards in aiming for a medal when she makes her Paralympic debut in Rio next month.

Edwards, 21, will be part of Great Britain’s 10-strong boccia squad for the Games in Brazil.

The youngster from Elmsett, near Hadleigh, will compete for Britain’s BC4 pairs team, along with current world individual champion Stephen Maguire and Kieran Steer.

Edwards said: “I’m really excited, it has always been my dream to do something like this.

“The aim is to progess from the group and into the medal matches and realistically there’s no reason why we can’t return home with a medal.

“We know that on our day we are capable of beating most of the teams, if not all of them.”

Team GB have picked up a gold, two silvers and a bronze in boccia in the last two Games and will be joined in their group by number one seeds Hong Kong, Slovakia and Portugal.

The University Campus Suffolk student, who is studying business management, first rose to prominence as a swimmer.

She won a string of medals in the pool, but in July 2007, Edwards, who was born with a rare condition called Thrombocytopenia-Absent Radius, suffered a huge blow when she lost the ability to stand or walk. Despite her setback, she bounced straight back by finding an alternative sport to focus on.

Played on a badminton-sized court, boccia is similar to bowls, using the skill of archery and the tactical awareness of chess. She took up the sport by chance, when she tagged along to a regional competition with her brother.

“My brother encouraged me to try it. I really took to it and since then I’ve been hooked,” explained Edwards.

“It’s a very tactical sport.”

Her early career highlights include a silver medal success at the 2015 BISFed European Team and Pair Championships, where she competed alongside both Steer and McGuire.

On her individual World Championship debut she defeated Dirceu Jose Pinto, the Brazilian boccia legend and four-time Paralympic champion.

“It’s not unusual to be nervous before a game, but once you get on court you go into a completely different mode,” said Edwards.

She will be joined in Rio by her dad Evan, mum Sue and older brother Josh.

The Paralympic Games get under way in Brazil on September 7.