A PARALYMPIAN in training held a friendly boccia competition on Saturday to start the new year in a fun and positive way and raise awareness of the unique sport.

Tia Ruel, who previously won a Pride of Bracknell award celebrated her recent success in achieving two bronze medals at a competition in Slovakia.

Teams gathered at the event held at Finchampstead Baptist Centre where competitors from BC1-4 classifications played a friendly match.

Tia said: "I have been playing boccia ever since I picked up my first ball when representing All Saints Primary School in 2005.

"Since then I have been on the talent pathway for the England and GB squads and have enjoyed so many wonderful international competitions with them."

The 21-year-old from Wokingham is a member of the Boccia England Squad and is also part of the Great Britain squad transition programme.

She said: "I decided to run a competition to start the new year off with a positive, upbeat attitude and to enjoy a friendly yet competitive environment with friends from the boccia community.

"It just felt right to bring boccia back to Wokingham and invite my boccia friends to my home town to start off the new year playing the sport we all love."

Boccia is a paralympic sport designed specifically for athletes with a disability affecting locomotor function.

The aim of the sport is to throw, kick or use a ramp to propel a ball onto the court with the aim of getting it closest to a 'jack' ball.

Several of Tia's England team mates also took part, along with one member from the Great Britain squad who will be using the event as a warm up for the start of the 2019 season.

The competition was also refereed by former Boccia England and Great Britain squad manager Barry Bowden, who led Team GB at the London 2012 Paralympic games.

Tia hopes to make this a yearly competition.