Hinchingbrooke School student Jabe Peake (17) has recently become the Boccia England BC1 National Boccia Champion, winning the BE Cup at the nationwide finals which were held at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.
Boccia is a bowls-type sport played at Paralympic level by people with physical disabilities. Jabe, an A level student with a passion for Maths, has Cerebral Palsy and uses a wheelchair at all times. He was first introduced to the sport of Boccia as part of the London2012 Paralympic legacy programme and the Hinchingbrooke School Springboard group, and was soon spotted as a player with possible potential to go further. He became part of the Boccia England Talent Squad and in 2014 met local Boccia coach Sandra King; former England Head Coach and organiser of the London2012 Paralympic Boccia competition. The partnership has proved to be a good one as Jabe has since progressed through the ranks, gaining selection for the England Squad in 2015 and representing England abroad at a number of friendly international events since then, medalling at each.
Qualification for the BE Cup finals was via regional competitions and North/South play-offs, both of which Jabe won comfortably; he beat his England team-mate 8-1 to win the regional event and amassed some really impressive statistics at the North play-offs, winning 5 out of 5 matches and scoring 58 points compared with just 8 scored against him. The national finals fell in the middle of A level exams but in this all-age sport that is not an issue for most players! Jabe drew a tough group but won two of his three matches, losing on a tie-break to former England player Caroline Robinson in the third. This earned him a semi-final match against former GB player Andrew Morgan, which he won 4-3, while the final was a re-match against Caroline, who started well, winning the first two ends but by just one point each. In the third end Jabe put a great first ball on the jack and Caroline struggled to knock it off or block up sufficiently well. Jabe then ‘pounced’, opening up the head and rolling 5 scoring balls in to take a 5-2 lead going in to the final end. Caroline set a long jack as she has beaten Jabe at that distance before, but on this occasion he was able to reduce the scoring zone available to her and put effective blocking balls in so that she could only score 1 on that end; final result 5-3 to Jabe and he had become National Champion for the first time!
Jabe trains regularly at One Leisure St Neots as well as at Hinchingbrooke School, and is also part of the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) which is delivered locally by the University of Cambridge Sport Service. TASS provides services such as Sports Psychology, Physiotherapy, Nutritional and Lifestyle advice, as well as Strength and Conditioning. Hinchingbrooke School have been visionary in enabling him to follow a reduced timetable, which in turn creates time for training both on and off the court. One Leisure St Neots have also given Jabe access to free court time courtesy of their National Squad scheme; all of this support is greatly valued and appreciated.
Directly after the BE Cup finals, Jabe attended his first UK Boccia Transition Camp, having now been identified as having the potential to represent the UK at major international events, including the Paralympics. At this exciting stage of his career he recognises that becoming National Champion is just one step along the path to reaching his ultimate goal of being World number one; the title currently held by his sporting idol, David Smith, who also won the Gold medal in Rio at last summer’s Paralympics. David didn’t enter the BE Cup this year, having won it for 14 years in a row, but Jabe will get an opportunity to play against him at the UK Championships in Liverpool during August. Next year Liverpool will host the World Championships and Jabe has his sights set on representing the UK at that home event.
Anyone that would like to know more about Boccia should contact Boccia England via their website – www.bocciaengland.org.uk. Anyone interested in sponsoring Jabe should in the first instance contact his coach, Sandra King, via her website – www.sandraking.org.uk