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Boccia Day 5 Review: ROK and Portugal march on
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Portugal and Spain clashed in the semifinals of all three events and Britain, the Republic of Korea and Brazil are into the gold medal matches.


Great Britain beat China 7-3 and Portugal conquered Spain 8-2 to set up a gold medal match between the World No. 1 and No. 2 teams. Nigel Murray led the British to an early 4-0 lead. Murray's younger teammates Dan Bbntley and David Smith then made key throws to steer the British to their first Paralympic Boccia gold medal match since 1984 in New York.

Portugal, led by Beijing 2008 Individual gold medalist Joao Paulo Fernandes, moved into a 4-0 lead in the second end, and then held on for the victory. As at Athens 2004, the Spanish made it into the bronze medal match.

The lowest ranked team in the competition China had reached the semifinals after a 12-2 victory over the World No. 6 Ireland in the quarterfinals. Wang Yi, Zhang Qi, Cao Fei and Yan Zhiqiang are the World No. 22 but play with confidence. Ireland's experienced team, including Sydney 2000 gold medalist Gabriel Shelly and Atlanta 1996 silver medalist Thomas Leahy, were outclassed. Great Britain beat Norway 11-1, Spain beat Hong Kong 8-4, and Portugal saw off Argentina 8-3.


Spain edged Portugal 6-4 while the ROK crushed Thailand 15-0 in the semifinals, setting up a repeat of the Athens 2004 gold medal match. The ROK pair Park Keon-woo and Jeong Ho-won, plus reserve Shin Bo-mee beat Thailand 12-0 and will go into the final bursting with confidence. The ROK players improve with every match and will now be strong favorites to win gold. Already ranked the World No. 1, they are now set to repeat the success of their predecessors, An Myung-hoon and Park Seong-hyeon, in this event four years ago in Athens.

Spanish duo Santiago Pesquera and Jose Manuel Rodriguez plus reserve Yolanda Martin were the ROK's opponents in that Athens final. They get a second chance to win a Paralympic gold medal after they fought back from 4-0 behind in their match with Portugal.

Earlier in the day, the top four ranked nations, the ROK, Portugal, Thailand and Spain had advanced from their pools with Spain and Thailand only just scraping through on points difference, after both lost two of their pool matches.


Two very evenly matched semifinals were won by Portugal and Brazil. Portugal, the World No. 1, clashed with the World No. 2 Spain. The match went to a tie-break fifth end after a 3-3 stalemate. The World No. 2 Bruno Valentim and partner Fernando Pereira of Portugal showed their class, making precise throws to clinch a 4-3 victory.

Brazil's Dirceu Pinto and Eliseu Santos, the gold and bronze medalists in the Individual competition, held on in the fourth end of their match with the Czech Republic to clinch a 4-1 win and guarantee second medals for each of them.

Earlier, Spain and Brazil qualified from pool A comfortably, while Portugal and the Czech Republic squeezed through from pool B by points difference. The defending champions Hong Kong were knocked out of competition. They beat Portugal 3-2 in their last Pool match, three points short of what they required to leapfrog their opponents into second place. The Czech Republic players went through as pool winners after they beat China 8-1 following a 4-2 defeat of Hong Kong on Wednesday.

(BOCOG September 12, 2008)

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