Stowmarket's Evie Edwards narrowly missed out on a medal at Rio but nothing is spurring her on for Tokyo more than the fond memories from her debut Paralympic Games.

Edwards, 24, was part of Great Britain’s ten-strong Boccia squad for the 2016 Games in Brazil but finished fourth in the mixed four BC4 classification with teammates Stephen McGuire and Kieran Steer after losing to hosts Brazil in the semi-final.

It’s been onwards and upwards for Edwards ever since, however, the former Suffolk University student winning bronze at the Hong Kong World Open in May before securing silver at August’s Boccia European Championships in Brazil.

“Now I’ve been to one, I know I want to do it again,” said the 24-year-old, speaking at a Sainsbury’s store visit in Ipswich.

“Rio was the highlight of my career and I think Tokyo would definitely be on par with it, if not more.

“I loved walking out into the opening ceremony with the rest of the ParalympicsGB squad in Rio. It had such an amazing atmosphere and it would be great to do that again.

“The Brazilian crowd just made it – they were so fun and energetic. When we played Brazil in the semi-finals we couldn’t hear ourselves think, let alone communicate what shot we were going to play!

“It was really special and something I will always remember. It would be so exciting to represent Great Britain in Tokyo.

“We’re definitely hoping for a medal this time, but it’s pretty tough in my classification because there’s probably about six or seven teams who could beat us.”

Edwards and co. may have qualified their BC4 classification for Tokyo, but the pressure is not off for the Boccia athletes as they attempt to nail down their spot on the plane as well as raise their seeding for Tokyo at the Povoa World Open later this month.

But for Edwards, the run-up to Tokyo is about more than her own success as she attempts to raise the profile of the sport she fell in love with as a teenager.

Edwards, who was born with a rare condition called Thrombocytopenia-Absent Radius, won a string of medals in the pool as a swimmer, but in July 2007, she lost her ability to stand or walk – leading her to finding an alternative sport to focus on in Boccia.

Played on a badminton-sized court, Boccia is similar to bowls, where players use the tactical awareness of a game such as chess to throw the ball closer to the target, the ‘jack’, than their opponents.

Boccia is, for Edwards, a sport like no other. While her medal tally remains important, she is determined to use her role to help change perceptions on disability sport.

“There’s been a real difference in the general understanding of the public that the Paralympics isn’t just a participation event, but that in fact, every athlete trains really hard to get there,” said Edwards, who was helping to promote Sainsbury’s role as longest-standing supporter of ParalympicsGB and a champion of inclusive sport for all.

“Every time we’re given an opportunity, it’s important we grab hold of it and put Paralympic sport in a positive light, but I also think the performance is the most important thing to raise awareness.

“If people can see what we do, hopefully they’ll get more interested. Some people who play Boccia can do the most incredible throws with their feet and we want more and more people to see our achievements.

“I never expected to become a Paralympian in Boccia – I just always loved playing sport. I’m quite surprised to have come as far as I have, but it just proves that anything can happen when you find a sport you love.”

Sainsbury’s is the longest-standing supporter of ParalympicsGB and a champion of inclusive sport for all. Sainsbury’s commitment to helping customers live well for less has been at the heart of what we do since 1869. For more information on Sainsbury’s commitment to inclusive sport visit