The Dutch delegation captured three gold medals at the finals of the Boccia and Wheelchair Tennis at Schouwburgplein in Rotterdam on Saturday. At the European Para Championships, Daniel Perez and Chantal van Engelen crowned themselves Boccia champions. In Wheelchair Tennis, Niels Vink and Sam Schröder grabbed the European title in the quads doubles final.
The fact that the Boccia final took place in Rotterdam on Schouwburgplein made Perez’s and Van Engelen’s victories extra unique: never before have the finals of a major title tournament in Boccia been held outdoors.
Perez beat reigning Paralympic champion David Smith from Britain in the final of the BC1 category. “Finally,” laughed Perez afterwards. “I came second many times, especially in finals against David. I am extremely happy to have finally won gold and also in such a remarkable location,” he said of the final on Schouwburgplein.
His compatriot Van Engelen defeated Portugal’s Ana Correia in the BC2 final. “This medal is very special for me,” Van Engelen commented afterwards.
In tennis, Vink and Schröder were good for gold in the doubles final in the quads, where they beat Turkey’s Ugur Altinel and Ahmet Kaplan (6-1 6-1). For Vink and Schröder, it is their first European title. The pair previously won several grand slams and the Paralympic and world titles. “It’s great to also win the European title now and even in our own country,” said Schröder. “Now we have really won everything there is to win. That’s absolutely amazing.”
The programme at Schouwburgplein continues on Sunday with the teams and pairs finals at Boccia and several Wheelchair Tennis finals. Among those competing on behalf of the Netherlands are Diede de Groot, Aniek van Koot (in both singles and doubles finals), Niels Vink and Sam Schröder (quads singles finals), Ruben Spaargaren (men’s singles and doubles finals with Maikel Scheffers) and Maikel Scheffers (battle for bronze in men’s singles and in doubles with Ruben Spaargaren).