Twenty-year-old Harry Thompson, from Northumberland, is a top Boccia player. He has Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Harry’s mum first noticed a problem with his mobility when he was a toddler, and he was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy when he was four –and-a -half years old. Harry has always been interested in different sports. Before Boccia, he was a keen power chair footballer, training regularly at the local sports academy. There was a Boccia club at the centre where he did football training, Harry showed an interest, and the rest is history!

Harry says:

My interest in athletics was the real propulsion into Boccia.  I realised I could throw quite well, and a few months after taking up the sport in 2009, I won my first DSE National Championship.

Day to day life is very busy! Typically, it involves strength and conditioning sessions, on court training, sourcing sponsorship, and looking at competitions to take part in.  At the moment, I’m working hard to set up Sans Frontieres Boccia Club – I’m always on the go!

It’s work hard, play hard for me – I spend up to 20 hours a week practising on court. I’ve really benefitted from a strength & conditioning programme – I use a hand cycle, and work through a conditioning and flexibility program. This involves assisted stretches, sitting balance, postural training, and thera-band work.

I really believe Boccia has helped to keep my condition stable.  Keeping physically fit has helped me maintain my muscle function. Thankfully, I’ve had no heart problems, and my spine has remained straight without medical intervention.The Joseph Patrick Trust has supported me enormously, helping to fund the best chairs to allow me to keep active.

Boccia gave me a purpose in life, now Boccia is my life. It has given me has a strong focus and a good sense of well-being. He has gained confidence and made friends from all over the world through the sport.

My biggest achievements are my international medals – individual bronze and silver. I’ve also been in the top three in my category in England for the last five years, and twice National Champion.

I recently competed in Slovakia at the Tatra Cup, Slovak International and achieved Silver medal behind the world number 2 Samuel Andrejcik (SVK)

My advice to other people with muscle-wasting conditions who are interested in playing sports would be to give it a go. To live with a muscle-wasting condition you need to be tough, push yourself and don’t let your condition stop you doing what you want to do. Disability sport, particularly Boccia, is an extremely good way of maintaining muscle you’d otherwise lose by being inactive. It is very easy to get involved in the sport, look up a local club, give it a try and see the benefits.

My goal is to progress to the GB Boccia squad, and to compete at the Paralympics in 2020.”

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