Signs are good for Larbert’s Boccia hopeful Jamie Docherty in China

Larbert Bowling Club, where Jamie Docherty, Boccia internationalist trains. Picture Michael Gillen.
Larbert Bowling Club, where Jamie Docherty, Boccia internationalist trains. Picture Michael Gillen.

Thankfully for boccia internationalist Jamie Docherty, he’s a pretty contented flyer.

This year he’s been in Canada for the World Boccia Open and late last night he touched down in Beijing, China for the World Championships.

It’s a long way to go, but he’ll spend five days acclimatising to the time difference, conditions and courts before the tournament proper gets underway.

“There’s high pollution levels in Beijing – that’s not something we’d ever considered before when travelling.

“We’ve been training a lot for this tournament. It’ll be tougher than previous because it’s only the best countries from the continents so the standard will be higher.

“We’re one of four teams from Europe (Portugal, Hungary and Czech Republic are the others) and the Asian countries will fancy their chances given the venue.”

The travelling to China poses it’s own problems for Jamie, who relies on an electric wheelchair to get around and thus as a crucial piece of his sporting equipment.

“I have to tape big signs to my chair in various languages that I have unplugged all the wires, and that sort of thing.

“I’m okay with flying, but it is a worry what can happen to your chair when it’s being handled, and how it gets back to you.

“I’ve seen others have theirs returned with all the wirse pulled out. Obviously, that’s a big hassle and a major stress.

“Getting stressed out is not the best preparation for competition, so I have my translated signs which so far – touch wood – have worked.

“I think in terms of prepartion we are one of the best prepared teams in the world, and we are hopeful of getting a medal.”

Docherty’s pairs partner Steven McGuire won a couple of silvers at the last competition and has designs on a repeat in the sport which is a mixture between bowls and golf.

Following the same principles as bowls in that the aim is for the jack, it follows the golf order of furthest from the target continues until they are closest.

Competitors have four ends and two jacks per end.

Initially, boccia was a disability sport for people with cerebral palsy. The BC1 and BC2 categories continue to be for people with the condition while BC3 and BC4 – which Jamie competes in – are for competitors with similar impairments.

“We use our own balls, and they’re all different,” he explained. “It’s actually a controversial subject as there is now a ball assessor brought in to ban the balls which were basically bean-bags. Instead, they’ve been let through and other more regular balls have been banned.

“There are differences in each ball from around the world. We have contingencies incase ours are rulled out, but there’s no reason why they should be.

“The different balls are reflective of different styles.

“Asian countries are very attacking. European boccia tends to be more defensive but Team GB is an attacking team - I’m quite happy with that.”

So much so that he has his eye on another long-haul flight, to Brazil and Rio in 2016.

“That’s the long-term aim but we’ll hopefully gain a lot from Beijing too.”

Jamie thanks his mum and dad, Edith and Alan for all their help in ferrying him to and from training “and basically revolving life around the game since I started it.

“As soon as I picked up a ball I knew.”