Nick Taylor competes in Rio de Janeiro.
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO – Four-time Paralympian Nick Taylor (Wichita, Kansas) rounded out the 2022 Rio de Janeiro 2022 World Boccia Cup on a high note, defeating the 23rd-ranked player in the world and likely boosting his world ranking in the process. Teammate Michele Lynch (Westmont, Illinois), an up-and-coming athlete in the sport, fell in both of her matches to two of the world’s best in her division.
Coming into the tournament with a goal of improving their world rankings – Taylor is currently ranked 29th in men’s BC4 and Lynch is 22nd in women’s BC2 – both athletes are likely to achieve that objective, Team USA head coach Kathy Brinker said. World Boccia has yet to release updated rankings following the competition.
Taylor, who recently transitioned to boccia after making four Paralympic appearances in wheelchair tennis, recorded Team USA’s lone victory in the tournament in a thrilling upset over world no. 23 Damir Juren of Croatia. Taylor eked a win in the tiebreaker after the match ended at 3-3.
“Nick showed he could play against some of the best in the world in his division,” Brinker said. “He is one or two tournaments away from having a breakthrough event and medaling. His lob shots and drawing the jack back were by far some of the best in the male BC4 division.”
Taylor missed advancing out of pool play after dropping his other two matches to two of the best in the world. He fell 3-7 to world no. 4 Samuel Andrejcik of Slovakia before facing off against Croatia’s Davor Komar, the gold medalist from the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. Komar, who would go on to win the silver medal, beat Taylor 2-10.
Taylor said he was happy with his showing in Rio.
“Individually, I was very pleased with my progress, defeating the number 23 player in the world and going toe-to-toe with the gold medalist from Tokyo in another match,” he said. “It is always the highest honor to have the opportunity to compete with USA on your back.”
Lynch, meanwhile, who is relatively new to the sport and qualified for the world cup after a solid showing at the World Boccia Americas Regional Championships last year, showcased a new underhand shot style in Rio. She faced a difficult schedule heading into the world cup, squaring off against the second and 11th-ranked athletes in the world.
Against Portugal’s Cristina Goncalves, the world no. 2, Lynch fell 0-8 before dropping her second match to Slovakia’s Kristina Kudlacova 0-9.
Brinker said that while Lynch is still finding her bearings in the sport, she is making tremendous gains in her game, and will continue to get better with each competitive opportunity.
“Michele has developed an underhand smash shot and is coming back to the U.S. to train in three other shot styles, which will assist in her ability to play at all distances,” Brinker said. “Although she is relatively young in the BC2 female division, she is gaining strides among her competitors.”
“World Cup allowed me the opportunity to show my newly developed underhand throw and compete against the best in my classification,” Lynch added. “I am looking forward to continued improvement and growth in my skillset.”
Both Lynch and Taylor have submitted applications for bipartite slots by name to compete at the 2022 Rio de Janeiro World Boccia Championships in December, and are awaiting a decision from World Boccia.
For media requests and photo inquiries, please contact Kristen Gowdy at Kristen.Gowdy@usopc.org.