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Sports scholar Lauren in GB team at showpiece competition in Rio

University of Gloucestershire sports scholar Lauren Kianchehr will be part of the Great Britain team for the first time at a major international sporting event – the Rio de Janeiro 2022 World Boccia Cup.

International referee Lauren, who is studying for a Master’s degree in Professional Practice in Sports Coaching, has been called up to provide coaching support to the GB players at the showpiece event in Rio from 25 April and 3 May.

Lauren is part of the sports scholarship programme at the University on the officiating pathway – the only one of its kind in the UK.

She won the 2021 Boccia England Unsung Hero Award for her contribution to supporting the growth of boccia, including as an academy coach assisting England’s most talented athletes to fulfil their potential.

Lauren said: “I’m delighted to be part of the Great Britain team competing at the Rio de Janeiro 2022 World Boccia Cup – I feel very lucky to been given such a wonderful opportunity.

“I have never been to Rio and I am very excited to be going there for the first time with the GB team. I have heard lots of stories about previous events held in Rio and I’m sure that this event will provide us with so many more brilliant stories to tell.

“The competition is being held in one of the venues used at the 2016 Paralympic Games, which in itself is pretty cool. I’m looking forward to seeing somewhere new and being able to share the experience with great friends.”  

Boccia, pronounced bot-cha, is a Paralympic sport with no Olympic equivalent and is similar to bowls. From a seated position, players propel balls to land as close as possible to a white marker ball, known as the Jack.

Lauren added: “When I first got involved in boccia – I fell in love with it at school – I never expected to get opportunities like this. I didn’t expect to be refereeing internationally, let alone travelling outside of Europe with the sport.”

Matthew Tansley, Director of Sport and Physical Wellbeing at the University, said: “Lauren has put so much time and effort into boccia and she is clearly valued very highly.

“Being able to support officials through our scholarship is fairly unique to the university sector and we are very much looking forward to seeing Lauren continue to flourish during her time with us.”

The University’s sports scholarships programme helps talented athletes, officials and aspiring coaches achieve their goals across a wide range of sports, and scholars are able to combine this bespoke support with any degree programme. 

Graduates of the programme include Matthew Carley and Christophe Ridley, who were awarded refereeing appointments at rugby union’s 2022 Guinness Six Nations Championship.