Paralympic aspirations

Tia Ruel, an Alton College student, previously at Treloar’s School, is hoping to be one of the next set of Paralympians going to Tokyo in 2020 to represent Team GB in the sport of boccia. She is currently studying for the BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Sport at College and hopes to become a full-time boccia player when she completes her studies. Boccia is a precision ball sport related to bowls and pétanque. The sport is contested at local, national and international levels, by athletes with more severe physical disabilities. It was originally designed to be played by people with cerebral palsy but now includes athletes with other severe disabilities affecting motor skills.

Tia has been playing boccia for ten years and trains three days a week. She is part of the England Lions Squad which trains together every three months. The Lions Squad is made up of up and coming players who have proven their mettle through competition.  On occasion they are called up to represent England at friendly international competitions. If successful, Tia will follow in the footsteps of Alton College and Treloar’s School alumnus David Smith, Paralympian who was on the GB boccia team that won the gold medal at the 2008 Summer Paralympics and competed at the 2012 London Summer Paralympics.

Earlier in the year, Tia performed a demonstration of boccia for Mr Puxley, the Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire. She uses training facilities in Maidenhead provided by SportsAble and this demonstration was to show what brilliant work they do. SportsAble is a life-changing charity that provides sport and leisure opportunities and facilities to the physically and sensorially disabled. It is one of the top clubs of its kind in the country offering a gateway from grass roots to Paralympic level.

PE was always her favourite subject growing up, so she is pleased to be able to continue her studies in Sport at Alton College. She said: ‘I live, breathe, eat, sleep and dream boccia, and everyone at Alton College has been very supportive in helping me study round my training. I am enjoying my time at College with lots of friends and helpful staff and am looking forward to finishing my studies and being able to play boccia all the time!’

Find out more about studying Sport at Alton College here.