Polychronidis: “Wherever I go I see people get excited to learn more about Boccia”

Grigorios Polychronidis is one of the best players who will participate in the Boccia European Regional Open, in Sant Cugat. He is the number two in BC3 category and he has won a lot of medals, like a gold in London 2012, a silver in Beijing, and a silver and another bronze medal’s in Rio. 

How important is this tournament to you?

Is the first competition for me after the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Great athletes are going to compete there, and I have to deliver my best performance in order to win.

After a short break I had in the Autumn, I have started an even harder training program and I am looking forward to play as well as never before.

You won the silver medal in Rio.

I have trained more than ever, before Rio Paralympics, but it was not enough to win my friend from Korea, Ho Won Jeong, in the Final game. The Silver medal though, as well as the great improvement in my performance in Rio, are encouraging me for even more efforts.

You are the second best player in BC3 individual category. It turns you in the favourite player to win in Sant cugat?

I respect all my opponents and I know how much they work, so I am sure that every game will be tough and exciting.

You told in 2012, before the Paralympic games, that because of the crisis, Paralympic’s athletes didn’t have any institutional support in Greece. Has change?

There is no institutional support to the Greek athletes due to the economic crisis that Greece is suffering from. Fortunately, there are sponsors that make it possible for us to continue competing for our country. Personally, I have Allianz, Alpha Bank and Hellenic Petroleum to help me cover a part of my preparation costs, and our (Hellenic) Sports Federation has a group of sponsors, with the Greek lottery (OPAP) to be the main sponsor that covers our competitions’ expenses.

How important is an assistant for a BC3 athlete?

The ramper has duties with great responsibility during the game. From personal experience from the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, during the Final match I had a moment with bad co-operation with my ramper that lead to a serious mistake that, someone could say, it was the reason I lost the Gold medal. Even though at that time, I was Number 1 in the World Ranking List for three years in a row, one mistake cost me a lot.

Waht qualities has to have a ramper?

The faster the ramper is, the more time you have for tactics. In simple words, I could definitely say that the ramper is a part of the athlete. Both train all the time together, they can communicate without any words and every action affects them both.

Your father worked as your assistant for a lot of years.

I have competed with my father as a ramper for many years. We have conquered almost every title working together. For the last two years I compete with my fiancée, Katerina Patroni, who is devoted to our common effort. Now, more than ever, we are available and determined to give all ourselves in order to train and accomplish great results. My father, as well as my godfather are still on the team with me, helping in anyway they can.

He built your first ramp. 

When I started playing Boccia in 2001, we had just plastic pipes for ramps here in Greece. My father then constructed my first ramp for the World Cup in 2003. After that and until now, he has designed and constructed a number of ramps for me. The ramp that I won Gold in London 2012 Paralympic Games is in the permanent exhibition of the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland and the ramp that I won the 6th place in Athens 2004 Paralympic Games is in the permanent exhibition in the Olympic Museum in Thessaloniki, Greece. These two donations that were made from my father and myself make us really proud and promote the sport of Boccia internationally to the visitors of the two museums.

You use different type of balls in the same game. Why?

The choice of the balls that someone uses in a game is the first part of the tactics. My set of balls contains hard, medium and soft balls as well. Though, you can always choose whether to take more medium balls or more soft balls, depending on the style of play of your opponent. Sometimes, you also may want to surprise your rival and play a different style of tactics than he is expecting. Of course, this always comes with a great deal of risk.

You said people told you that Boccia is as interesting as football. Is this the best recommendation to people who doesn’t know about Boccia?

In my first international competition, the World Cup in 2003, our team leader who had never watched Boccia before, was really excited from the beauty of the game and he made the statement that Boccia is as interesting as football. I use his statement until today. I am really happy that wherever I go to present Boccia, schools, universities, institutions, etc., I see people get excited and really interested to learn more about Boccia. Children in schools always ask me to stay more and let them play as much as possible. These feelings are indescribable. 

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