BC1 Boccia player
The self-styled “Ronnie O’Sullivan of boccia”, David certainly shares the snooker star’s exceptional talent for his chosen sport. The BC1 athlete, who has Spastic Hypertonia Cerebral Palsy, was the youngest ever boccia player to win the British Championships at 14 and became world champion at 18. Ranked among the world’s top three since 2011, David topped his silver performance at London 2012 by returning from Rio with gold.
This outcome had looked more and more likely since adopting his DM Orthotics scoliosis suit in December 2015, which he wears religiously to the gym three times a week. “The suit was my physio’s idea to try to strengthen my core,” he explains. “It’s less rigid than the spinal brace I wear every day for support, so it makes me work my postural muscles.”
David soon noticed a marked difference. “By the 2016 World Championships in March I’d say my power had gone up 10 per cent,” he reveals. “Power in boccia is crucial because unlike bowls we use soft balls that are harder to move when they’re on the Jack. I was already one of the strongest BC1s and I’m probably miles ahead now in terms of how hard I can hit the ball, which is a huge advantage.”
The suit has also assisted David in developing his accuracy. “When I played before, I used to slope forwards or sideways, particularly after throwing underarm, and just hang off my hips and be propped up by my brace,” he says. “Now that I can activate my postural muscles while wearing the brace, my movement is more stable and my improved fitness means I don’t get so tired in later sessions.”
A natural showman, David has sported a brightly coloured Mohican for all three of his Paralympic appearances and always gives his home crowd something to cheer about. Plumping for red at London and Beijing and blue for Rio, we look forward to seeing his colour of choice at Games number four.