David Smith Biography

David Smith (born 2 March 1989 in Eastleigh) is a Paralympian who was on the British boccia team that won the gold medal at the 2008 Summer Paralympics. He competed for Great Britain at the 2012 Summer Paralympics and did so winning Bronze in the Team BC1–2. and Silver in the BC1 individual event watched by a record Boccia crowd at the Excel arena. David competed for Paralympics GB for a third time in Rio where he won Gold in the individual BC1 event for the first time in his career. In doing so, David has become the joint most successful British Boccia player in history. David currently holds the 'triple crown' of major tournament wins following his recent win at the World Championships in Liverpool.

Early life and family

He was born David John Smith at Southampton General Hospital, the son of Mary Windless (1952–present) and Clive Smith (1953–present). David was the first of two children; he was born two years before is sister Dawn. David was brought up in Eastleigh.

Education

= Early years and Primary school

David diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy aged 1, went to a developmental centre in Winchester for disabled children. Aged 3, he went to Cedar School, Southampton for special needs children. David first played Boccia aged 6 at Cedar School when the school competed at National junior games in Stoke Mandeville. Throwing sideways, David never really won a game and the sport took time to ignite his interest. The school really struggled to challenge David and his potential to learn was being held back by the lack of academic ability of his peers.

= Secondary School

After a long battle with the council, David's parents managed to get David a place at Treloar School. Aged 11, David finally changed schools and went to Treloar School in September 2000. Immediately (much to the annoyance of Social services) David began to flourish, his confidence grew rapidly and he really developed his talent for Boccia, drumming, wheelchair hockey, wheelchair football and Para-athletics. He became the youngest ever player to win the British Boccia Championships at the age of 14 and won numerous national titles in the other sports. David was elected head boy in 2004 and managed the wheelchair hockey and football sessions.

= College

The move to college was straight forward for David as it was the same organisation. Whilst at Treloar College, David attended Alton College to complete his A'levels in Physics and Maths. The demands of his, now international, Boccia career meant that a lot of the hobbies he had at school had to be phased out.

= University

After the Beijing Paralympics, David went to Swansea University to study Aerospace Engineering. Due to Boccia, David took 6 years to complete the Degree. However, David was able to set up a permanent base in Swansea with the sports support services and facilities necessary to remain successful.

International Boccia

= Early career

Coached by Barry Bowden since he started Treloar, David joined the England and Wales squad in 2004 soon after his first British title. David's international debut followed the same year. David went to the European Championships in 2005, his first Major ranking international. There he beat the world ranked number 6 player 6-0 in a pool game and got all the way to the quarter-finals. In the team event he helped the England team secure a silver medal. David had disappointing second major in 2006 this time representing GB, where he finished 13th and the team got a bronze at the World Championships in Rio. In 2007, David became double world champion at the age of 18. Sadly, Barry decided to step down as his coach after this tournament after 7 years together following disputes with the new GB squad. David competed in Beijing 2008 but due to the continued coaching issue only managed 13th individually. The team did much better and inspired by his teammate Nigel, David raised his game and helped the team achieve an historic Paralympic Gold.

= Middle career

After Beijing, David built up a friendship with Sarah Nolan who in 2010 became his coach. New management in the GB squad helped David untie the bad practices of the previous era and slowly the sport became professional. In 2009, David won his first Europeans to become world ranked number 1 for first time. In 2010, David and the team lost in quarter-finals to Tadtong of Thailand at the World Championships. Drastic changes were needed and Sarah started reworking how David played the game to suit the new style of play from Asia. In 2011, Sarah became David's permanent on-court assistant. In 2012, David won two medals at the Paralympics for the first time.

In 2013, Claire Morrison became David's coach whilst Sarah remained his on-court assistant took over as captain of the team and won double gold at the Europeans that year.

In 2014, David became world champion for a second time winning the final spectacularly 8-2.

In 2015, David captained the team to another European Gold and the team gained an automatic slot for the Rio Paralympics.

In 2016, David claimed a bronze at the World Individual Championships in Beijing having lost once in the pool stages and losing again to Tadtong. In Rio, David recovered from the disappointment of Team failure and the loss of a must win Pool game to beat his long term Thailand rival for the first time. After the pool game David parted company with his coach and Sarah took over the coaching duties. Thanks to Sarah steadying the ship and giving David clarity, two days later, David was Paralympic Champion.

= Late career

Glynn Tromans took over coaching after Rio and David won the European championships for a third time and went through the whole 2017 season undefeated. In 2018, David suffered a shock defeat at Montreal World open which was the first time in over 18 months. However, David responded immediately and went on to reclaim his World title at the World Championships in Liverpool. David now has the 2016-2018 Triple crown of being reining Paralympic, European and World champion. In 2019, David defended his European title automatically qualifying to Tokyo in the process.

Domestic Boccia

David has remained unbeaten at annual English Nationals and GB Championships since 2004 clocking up a record 15 British and 11 National titles. In 2016, David retired from the English nationals due to the long standing trophy and competition being replaced with a new format that didn't offer the same incentives. He was able to focus on his international career and give the next generation of English BC1s a taste of success.

Personal life

David is currently based at Swansea where, after completing his degree studying Aerospace Engineering at Swansea university, he is living and training full-time. He has a passion for aircraft with a particular interest in World War II aircraft. He is an active member of the local Green party, a strong advocate of independent living for the disabled and a critic of successive governments cuts to spending on social care. David's car is heavily adapted to enable him to drive independently across the country. David is a Patron of his former School, Treloars in Alton. David was selected to go on Dreamflight in 2003 and since then has been a regular supporter and visitor to events in successive years. He is also a drummer in his spare time as well as a keen driver and advocate of the motability scheme.

Appearances

David has made two appearances on The Last Leg where he has performed his trademark "doughnut" in his wheelchair.

Awards

He was Given the Freedom of the Borough of Eastleigh in 2013.

He was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to boccia

References

External links

David Smith at the British Paralympic Association

David Smith at the International Paralympic Committee

David Smith (boccia)

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