Murray targeting a golden send-off

Nigel Murray in boccia action.
Nigel Murray in boccia action.

Boccia star Nigel Murray is convinced home support can lift him to a golden swansong at the Paralympic Games.

The 48-year-old plans to bow out of the sport after London following a glittering career which has seen him win two Paralympic golds, one silver and a host of World and European medals.

With Murray ranked first in the BC2 category for the individual competition and Britain seeded third for the team event, hopes are high of a double medal-winning haul.

However, Murray says nothing can be taken for granted, especially with Beijing team silver medallists Portugal in Great Britain’s opening group.

“There’s been really good interest in tickets for the boccia and I know a number of the days are already sold out,” said Murray, who in addition to friends and family will be cheered on by a number of fellow Brakes supporters at the ExCeL Arena.

“Hopefully the support can get behind us and give us that extra edge because there is nothing between the teams.

“Realistically, any one of the top eight can win a medal.”

Murray goes into the individuals as hot favourite following gold in the test event where he overcame third seed Korea’s So-Yeong Jeong in the final.

But while his chief rivals battle it out on Wednesday, Murray will be consigned to a watching brief on the first day.

“For the first time it is going to be run as a straight knockout,” said Murray.

“I’m quite fortunate as I’m the only player to get a bye into the last 16 as I’m the number-one ranked player.

“Hopefully it will be to my advantage.”

Despite still being ranked as the best player in the world, Murray says he will have no regrets about calling time on a 14-year career which has also seen him crowned national champion 12 times.

And irrespective of calls for him to reconsider, he says his mind is made up.

“It will definitely be my last Paralympics.

“BocciaGB are trying to make me stay on for a few months and compete at next year’s European Championships.

“I’ve told them I’ve not made my mind up yet but it’s unlikely.

“I’ve always felt that London would be my final performance and if I did get a medal it would be a great way to bow out.”

Following a U-turn by the Royal Mail, all ParalympicGB individual and team gold medallists will be honoured by a stamp and a gold postbox as happened for TeamGB winners.

Murray, who lives in Whitnash, says he is not sure where the exact location of the postbox would be.

However, he admits it would be a worthwhile headache to have should he strike gold, even if it ends up offending a certain district councillor.

“I’ve always been a Leamington person so it would probably be there, but I’m not sure what Bernard Kirton would have to say about that.”

 The team event kicks off at the ExCeL Arena on Sunday, with Great Britain facing Argentina and Portugal in the opening group stage.