Paralympics: No medals, but Boccia players Nurul and Toh surpass expectations

boccia_singapore

Via Straitstimes.com

SINGAPORE – A handful of fans were at Changi Airport to welcome Boccia players Nurulasyiqah Mohammad Taha and Toh Sze Ning back home from the Rio Paralympic Games on Tuesday (Sept 20) afternoon.

The duo might have returned home empty-handed from Rio, but the crowd support they had received in Brazil left the biggest impression on them.

Their eyes lit up with excitement when they recalled how they were cheered on by boisterous crowds who did Mexican waves at the Carioca Arena, the Boccia competition venue.

Nurul, who also took part in the 2012 London Paralympics, said: “I felt like I was at the (football) World Cup. The spectators were so loud and expressive when they cheered. I’ve never experienced that kind of atmosphere before.”

Toh, 23, who was making her Paralympics debut, said: “It felt like a soccer match. The crowd made it very exciting.”

The pair were greeted at the arrival hall by their family members and sports officials, including Singapore National Olympic Council president Tan Chuan-Jin.

Nurul and Toh earned the Republic’s best result in the sport at the Paralympics when they made it to the BC3 mixed-pairs bronze medal playoffs, following upsets over higher-ranked opponents Portugal and Greece.

But they eventually lost 1-8 to Greece to narrowly miss out on winning Singapore’s first Paralympic medal in the sport.

The team’s coach Tess Tan noted: “Greece were really on form on that day. They brought their A+ game and we didn’t bring our A game. But overall, we are quite satisfied with our results as we met the goal which we had set out to achieve.”

Nurul, 31, said: “We are sad, of course, but we have surpassed people’s expectations. We also felt surprised and a bit overwhelmed when we beat the higher-ranked teams, which sent a message to other teams that we can win if we put in 100 per cent of our efforts.

“I’m proud of what we have achieved and we have no regrets knowing that we are now the fourth best team in the world.”

Toh said: “I felt disappointed because we came so close yet so far (to winning a medal). But I am glad that we finished in the top four.”

It appears that missing out on a medal has made them even hungrier to go one step further at the Games’ next edition.

Even though Nurul will return back to her job as an auditor after taking a two-year, no-pay leave to prepare for Rio, she is already eyeing a medal at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.

She joked: “So this means that I cannot retire yet right? The work is not finished yet. I will be back for Tokyo. For me, I’ve always planned in blocks of four years before the next cycle continues. We need to plan now for the next four years.

“This Paralympics is not the end. We are now ranked fourth and it is another step in our progress.”

Are we in the middle of a Boccia Boom?

4 cutting edge technologies helping to improve your Boccia game

DEMAND Design & Manufacture for Disability have been making Boccia ramps in the UK for over 14 years. Starting with custom designs and one-off requests from special needs schools and colleges, eventually there were so many enquiries that the team created a range of ramps available for anyone to buy. Since then, these assistive ramps have enabled hundreds of people with complex and severe disabilities to enjoy Boccia.

DEMAND Boccia Lite ramp

Thanks to the innovative technology in DEMAND’s workshops, the go-to ramp for Boccia beginners, the Boccia Lite, is more accurate and versatile than ever. It is the first ramp to feature DEMAND’s innovative precision engineered ‘V’ channel, proven to keeps the ball on a straight trajectory when travelling down the ramp and onto the court.

Here’s a look at the cutting edge technologies helping you play at your best with the new Boccia Lite:

1. Rapid prototyping

In depth testing of the Lite’s new design was key to developing such an accurate ramp. By using a 3D printer to create scale models, many different designs could be tested quickly (using very tiny boccia balls we imagine!). Using these scale models, the team at DEMAND were able to develop a new ball holder which works even at the steepest ramp angles, allowing for more powerful and faster shots on the court.

3d printer video clip

2. Computer aided design and manufacture

With just the click of a mouse, this computer controlled (CNC) router can cut almost any 3D shape. It’s been used to create a mould that will be used to make thousands of Boccia Lite ramps, and it’s accurate to within just ⅓ of a millimetre. A precise mould makes for a precise ramp after all!
CNC Router machine cutting a boccia ramp mould

3. Vacuum forming

Each ramp is made by heating and forming a sheet of durable plastic. Manufacturing in this way means the ramp gains rigidity and additional features can be included, like the integrated ball rest and indexing edge for the add-on extension, while still being lightweight and durable enough to throw in the back of the car.

Vaccum forming machine making DEMAND Boccia LIte ramps

4. CNC Trimming

The final stage in each ramp’s journey through the workshop is trimming. Using a computer-controlled machine means every ramp is finished with the highest degree of precision, with smooth edges every time. From here, ramps are cleaned and then adorned with their stickers before being packaged and shipped to their new owners in all corners of the world!

CNC Router trimming a DEMAND Boccia Ramp

Boccia ramps from DEMAND are available to buy online in DEMAND’s shop.

DEMAND can also help with modifications to your ramp. Tweet them @DEMANDcharity or get in touch via DEMAND’s website.

Spotlight on Jamie & Scott McCowan

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Scott McCowan competes at the London 2012 Paralympics

Scott and Jamie McCowan are brothers who’ve both been selected to represent the UK at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. They’ll be competing for gold in the Boccia championship, which starts on the 7th of September.

The brothers play in the BC3 Boccia classification, and use an assistive ramp to propel each ball onto the court. We spoke to Scott and Jamie about their journey to Rio.

When did your journey to Rio begin?

Scott: “I’ve been competing now for 10 years almost. I’ve always been a BC3 whereas Jamie was a thrower for a long time, he’s recently transitioned to the BC3 class”

Jamie: “I’ve been playing for 10 years but i’ve been using the ramp for a year and a half.”

You’ve been using your ramp for a year and a half and you’ve already qualified for Team GB?

Jamie: “It’s been a quick change you could say! It’s been a quick turnaround for me but it’s been a great learning experience also.”

“I always thought ‘i’ll not be able to do it’. I was a thrower at the time and I couldn’t throw that far. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to reach the back of the court, I didn’t know anything about ramps.”

How did you first get involved with Boccia?

Scott: “I went to a multi-sports event for disabled people in my local area trying a number of sports. The boccia coach was there at the time. I always thought ‘i’ll not be able to do it’. I was a thrower at the time and I couldn’t throw that far. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to reach the back of the court, I didn’t know anything about ramps. The coach asked for me at a few events, I eventually gave in and gave it a try, I got hooked from there.”

Jamie: “I wasn’t familiar with the sport of Boccia. I tried it thinking this could be fun, we could enjoy it.”

Scott: “We joined the Scotland squad and never looked back.”

Jamie_McCowan

Jamie McCowan carries the Olympic torch in 2012

Scott competed in 2012 at the Paralympic games in London, so we asked how he expects Rio to be different.

S: “It’ll obviously be different from London, being a home games is such a special experience. One big difference will be the change in the crowd support, in London almost everybody was supporting team GB whereas this time it’ll be mostly brazilian supporters you would think. It’s a different continent, a different part of the world, a different culture, but at the same time it’s still a Paralympic games.”

“It’s just about trying to keep it in perspective, it’s just another event, but it’s certainly going to be different to my experience in London.”

Rio will be Jamie’s Paralympic debut, so we asked what advice he’d gotten from his brother.

J: “The thing I want to remember is that I don’t think it’s good to go in thinking you know what to expect. But when you step out onto the court, nothing’s changed, it’s the same game once you’re out there.”

S: “The biggest thing, enjoy it first of all. You get shocked by it in the first few days, try and get all the wonder and excitement out of the way and get into the competition mode, you’ve got to try to knuckle down and keep it in perspective – you’re there to do a job.”

“I don’t think anything can really prepare you until you get out there and experience it.”

“we know we’re good enough to beat all the teams. It’s just about doing it on the day.”

Who are you not looking forward to coming up against?

S: “Our biggest rivals are going to be Korea. They’re the world number one pair. They are the only team we haven’t beaten in competition yet, every other team we have beaten at some point.”

“We know that’s probably going to be the greatest test, but the way we’ve been training this year we know we’re good enough to beat all the teams. It’s just about doing it on the day.”

J: “The way we’ve played recently we know we can achieve what we want, that’s the most important thing. I think if you have that confidence and belief in what you’re doing for every single game then you can win. It’s exciting that we’re at that stage and putting the finishing touches on. We just want to get out there and perform to the best of our ability now.”

The brothers say their rivalry helps “keep the competitive juices flowing”

S: “I think obviously [Jamie]’s important to me for the pairs event, but once it gets into the singles…”

J: “It’s every man for himself!”

“It’s about not letting your disability set your limits”

Something that’s been making headlines ahead of Rio is Channel 4’s Superhumans campaign – what do you think of it?

J: “I think it’s fantastic, we’ve seen it lots and I just think what they’re doing spreading the word is inspiring. After London the Paralympics has taken off even further and the fact that they’re still spreading that positive message has meant no momentum got lost.”

S: “The great thing about it is that they’ve not focused only on sport, which is important because it’s not just about sport its so much more than that actually. It’s not just about ‘can you do sport?’, it’s from a musical perspective, are you good at your job, do you excel in so many different aspects of life? For us it’s great that they’re spreading a positive message, it doesn’t mean people have to get involved in sport, there’s so many aspects of life you can say, ‘Yes you can’ do what you want. You don’t have to have it decided for you because you have a disability that means you’re not suited to something that you’re passionate about.”

J: “Though we’re very sports driven and that’s what our lives revolve around, It’s about not letting your disability set your limits.”

“I don’t think there’s a better feeling. My first tournament win was 8 and a half years ago and now still feels the same.”

What motivates you to compete at this elite level?

J: “To me it’s the feeling of winning. With sport it’s a lot of hard work, a lot of sacrifices have been made but when you go to a tournament and you’ve stuck to your plan, you’ve won your tournament or won medals I don’t think there’s a better feeling. My first tournament win was 8 and a half years ago and now still feels the same.”

S: “What drives us to keep getting better is the inspiration to be better than the next guy, we’re competitive animals and that’s why we’re involved in the sport. If you don’t do well you get that motivation to try and do well the next time.”

What would be your advice to a player looking to make into Team GB for Tokyo 2020?

J: “One of the key things is don’t ever feel that there’s nothing to learn. You’ve really got to put the hours in if it’s something you want to do. You make those sacrifices and you can achieve whatever you want to in sport.”

S: “The hard work and dedication is the important bit. You have to make it your soul focus in terms of your training. I would say the biggest thing is to look to the person that’s competing above you, look at what they do and say to yourself, well if they’re doing better than me and they’re doing this maybe I could try it and you do that at every level.”

What about someone wanting to get involved with Boccia for the first time, what advice would you give them?

J: “People starting the game don’t know where to go and where to get the best ramps, so it’s great for organisations like yourselves to provide them, it’s crucial.”

S: “If you don’t have an effective ramp you’re just not going to be able to compete with some of the top guys.”

J: “Maybe the way you could perform with a better ramp isn’t the way you are performing with your current ramp. Even the quality of our ramps in recent years have changed dramatically. We’ve put a lot of work into that, if you‘ve got people outside of the squad doing that and potential athletes, trying to make adjustments and changes [to their ramps] it’s going to make it even more competitive.”

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Scott McCowan and the GB squad at the London 2012 victory parade

So you’re feeling ready for Rio?

S: “We’ve done all the training that we need to do, were definitely ready to go out and do it so it’s just about staying ready at this point.”

We wish Jamie, Scott and the whole of the GB squad the best of luck going for gold at Rio. We’ll be sharing the results here on Boccia News as soon as they come in.

If you’re looking to get involved with Boccia as a beginner, or to improve your skills like Scott and Jamie, assistive ramps to suit every ability designed and made in house by DEMAND Design & Manufacture for Disability are available here.

Four Argentinian Boccia athletes head to Rio

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Via Paradeportes

The Argentina Selection boccia already has four athletes who will represent us at the Paralympic Games in Rio: Mauricio Ibarbure (BC1), Sebastian Gonzalez, Luis Cristaldo and Maria Esther Sahonero (BC2). “I chose a functional team that has players who are physically well profiled in this category, with plenty of power and, above all, accurate , ” said Paul IOCCA, the national coach.

“The goal of minimum Argentina is passing the knockout stage and reach the semifinal , ” said IOCCA, who took the concentration of the national team in the Cenard to adjust details.

Boccia (4) : Mauricio Ibarguren, Sebastián González, Luis Cristaldo and Mary Esthe Sahonero.

Via Paradeportes

Six selected for Canada’s Paralympic Boccia team

LONDON, ENGLAND 09/06/2012  Marco Dispaltro competes in the 1/8 finals of the individual Boccia BC4 at the London 2012 Paralympic Games at the Excel.  (Photo by Daniel Marcotte/Canadian Paralympic Committee)

LONDON, ENGLAND 09/06/2012 Marco Dispaltro competes in the 1/8 finals of the individual Boccia BC4 at the London 2012 Paralympic Games at the Excel. (Photo by Daniel Marcotte/Canadian Paralympic Committee)

Via the International Paralympic Committee

MONTREAL, Que. – July 18, 2016 – Boccia Canada and the Canadian Paralympic Committee are proud to announce the six boccia athletes nominated for selection to Team Canada for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games this September.

Team Canada’s boccia players bring a powerful mix of youth and experience. Four of the six will be competing in Rio in their first Paralympic Games, while veterans Marco Dispaltro and Paul Gauthier bring Paralympic Games experience to the team. Dispaltro won bronze at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, while Rio will mark the sixth Paralympic Games for Gauthier, who won gold in 2004 and two bronze in 2000.

“Canada has won medals in boccia at the last four Paralympic Games, so it’s a tradition we hope continues in Rio,” said Chef de Mission Chantal Petitclerc. “There are some excellent leaders and accomplished athletes in this sport who have been able to deliver consistent success across their program.”

The Canadian team represents some of boccia’s finest international athletes, with half of the players ranked in the top-20 in the world. With two silver medals last month (Dispaltro and Levine in pairs, Eric Bussiere in singles) at the final pre-Paralympic World Open in Povoa de Varzim, Portugal, the team is primed for a strong performance in Rio.

The emergence of budding stars Iulian Ciobanu, Alison Levine, Eric Bussiere and Marylou Martineau is a testament to the growth of this sport.

“All six athletes are a pleasure to work with, they are confident and they look forward to facing the challenges of the Paralympic Games,” said head coach Mario Delisle. “The last performance for many of these athletes at the international level looked great and I can feel everyone’s excitement. Some important fine tuning work is ahead in July and August, ensuring our team will be a force to reckon with in September.”

The team includes athletes in the BC4 classification, for athletes who are able to throw, and athletes in the BC3 classification who play using a ramp. In both classifications, Canada will compete in the individual and pairs divisions.

“Congratulations to the Boccia Canada athletes nominated to join Team Canada for the upcoming Rio 2016 Paralympic Games,” said the Honorable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities. “Canada has a proud tradition of being a fierce competitor in boccia and I know our athletes are eager to continue to write that story this summer in Brazil. All of Canada is behind you.”

Boccia is a precision ball game, similar to bocce and lawn bowls. It is a simple game to learn, but difficult to master. With over 50 countries participating and the level of play increasing all the time, medals in Rio will be harder to come by than ever before.

The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games take place September 7 to 18. Boccia team and pairs competition begins on September 11 and individual play commences on September 16.

The athletes nominated to the Canadian Paralympic Team are as follows:
BC3
Eric Bussiere (Arthabaska, Que.)
Paul Gauthier (Vancouver, B.C.)*
Marylou Martineau (Québec City, Que.)

BC4
Alison Levine (Montreal, Que.)
Marco Dispaltro (Montreal, Que.)*
Iulian Ciobanu (Montreal, Que.)

*Denotes athletes with previous Paralympic Games experience

The nominated team will be supported by the following coaching staff:
Head Coach Mario Delisle (Montreal, Que.)
BC4 Coach César Nicolaï (Montreal, Que.)

Via the International Paralympic Committee

Stephen McGuire’s Rio 2016 Paralympic hopes

Via the Daily Record

World boccia champion Stephen McGuire expects a ‘carnival’ atmosphere when the Paralympic Games start in Rio in September.

The Hamilton ace is part of a 10-strong boccia team that was announced by the British Paralympic Association (BPA), and although he has known for some time that he was heading to Rio, McGuire (32) admits the excitement is building.

“I knew three weeks before, because they need to leave room for appeals and things like that, but it has been rubber-stamped and that’s great to know,” said Stephen.

“It does increase the excitement. It has been an interesting week, as I got the news and I was straight down to London, where we heard a lot of inspirational and motivational speeches.

“We’re part of a wider team and it’s amazing. There were a lot of Scots there, including Gordon Reid who just won the wheelchair tennis at Wimbledon.

“When one person wins a medal the momentum grows and the camaraderie is amazing. There is that bond.

“When we go to play abroad as Team GB there are 10 of us, but there are over 200 athletes this time.”

Stephen anticipates some fierce competition in boccia, which runs from September 10-16 (the Paralympics runs from September 7-18), and is eager to get going.

“I’m looking forward to the atmosphere; London 2012 was pretty traditional and in my head at least Rio is going to be a carnival. I’m looking forward to the crowds, the atmosphere, and it will be great to be part of it.

“Boccia is really big over in Brazil, we’re going to be playing in a 10,000 all-seater stadium, and I’m told it will be full. I hope we get to play them, actually, because they’re really good.”

Reigning BC4 World champion and pairs BC4 European Pairs champion McGuire is confident of doing well in Rio, and is pleased with what he has accomplished thus far.

He said: “I think you have to be confident when you go into something like this.

“Personally, I’ve done very well this year; I’ve won the World Championship and the Czech Open, and I took bronze from the World Open in Portugal, so there will be chances there.

“This is my second Paralympic Games, and to be honest there is no greater privilege than to represent Great Britain.

“When I started out, my dream was to get to a Paralympic Games, but this is my second, and I’ve won medals at the highest level.

“At London 2012 I was so close to a Paralympics medal, and that’s what keeps me going, so hopefully this time I can achieve it.”

Team leader Matt Hammond said: “The team is as strong as it has ever been and these athletes have been pushed throughout the qualifications period to deliver the performance needed to secure their place.”

Via the Daily Record

GB Boccia team announced for Rio 2016

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Via Paralympics GB

“Beijing and London were both completely different experiences, and I look forward to finding out what Rio has in store for me.”

“The standard of international competition continues to go up, but I’ve remained focused on my preparations to ensure I’m in the best possible place. I hope the country will get behind us and help supercharge the team to success.”
David Smith

Matt Hammond, Team Leader for GB Boccia, said: “Today’s announcement is a proud moment for me as team leader and I’m delighted to confirm our line-up for Rio. The team is as strong as it’s ever been and these athletes have been pushed throughout the qualification period to deliver the performances needed to secure their place on the team. I’d like to congratulate the athletes and their competition partners for all of their hard work up to this point and I believe we can pose a real threat to our rivals on the court in Rio.”

Today’s announcement takes the number of selected athletes to 215 from 19 sports.

Selected athletes are:

BC1 David Smith (competition partner: Sarah Nolan)
Home town: Eastleigh
Main training base: Swansea

BC2 Nigel Murray
Home town: Leamington Spa
Main training base: Warwick St Nicholas Park Leisure Centre

BC2 Joshua Rowe
Home town: Perth
Main training base: Stirling

BC2 Claire Taggart
Home town:
Main training base:

BC3 Patrick Wilson (competition partner: Kim Smith)
Home town: Edinburgh
Main training base: Edinburgh

BC3 Jamie McCowan (competition partner: Linda McCowan)
Home town: Dundonald, Ayrshire
Main training base:

BC3 Scott McCowan (competition partner: Gary McCowan)
Home town: Dundonald, Ayrshire
Main training base:

BC4 Stephen McGuire
Home town: Hamilton
Main training base: University of the West of Scotland

BC4 Kieran Steer
Home town: Crossgates, Fife
Main training base: Fife

BC4 Evie Edwards
Home town: Ipswich
Main training base: Ipswich

Via Paralympics GB

Making Boccia Accessible event success in Dubai

downloadVia Inside the games

Seven Asian countries were represented at a “Making Boccia Accessible” event in Dubai.

The scheme, supported by world governing body the Boccia International Sports Federation (BISFed), the International Paralympic Committee’s development arm the Agitos Foundation, UK Sport, GB Boccia and law firm Hogan Lovells, aims to train “ambassadors” in the sport across the world.

Once trained, the ambassadors will return to their home countries to help spread the sport and encourage more people to play boccia.

It is hoped that up to 10,000 new boccia players can be introduced into the sport, with 400 boccia sets circulated as part of the project.

Andrinne Craig and Darren Thomson were selected by Scottish Disability Sport to represent BISFed in Dubai, following sessions in Africa and South America.

Representatives from India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Jordan, Mongolia and host country the United Arab Emirates were in attendance.

BISFed President David Hadfield was also present for parts of the course.
The Mongolian representatives said they had not touched a boccia ball before arriving in Dubai.

“We were looking for opportunities for children with cerebral palsy and love that boccia is so inclusive,” said a representative from Sri Lanka.

“We will create a boccia group and forum and train ambassadors from each district who can begin to deliver boccia to children in those areas.

“There are three CP special schools with 110 plus pupils and now they have a sport to play.

“We want to create happiness and the opportunity for children to play sport through boccia.”

Via Inside the games

Daniel Michel to be the first Australian boccia Paralympic competitor since 2000

Daniel Michel World Championships 2016

Via Inside the Games

Daniel Michel is set to become the first Australian to compete in boccia at the Paralympic Games since Sydney 2000 after being selected for Rio 2016.

The 21-year-old from Sydney earned a place in Brazil after finishing sixth in the BC3 category at this year’s World Individual Championships in Beijing.

“The Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) is incredibly proud of Daniel and the high performance boccia program we manage,” Australia’s Chef de Mission Kate McLoughlin said.

“To have a boccia athlete like Dan earn the right to represent Australia at the Paralympics for the first time since Sydney 2000 is a testament to the hard work the APC and our partners have put into developing the national programme over the past four years.”

Michel was born with spinal muscular atrophy type two, a motor neuron disorder which leaves him requiring assistance for everyday activities.

“Daniel has shown immense commitment and determination in reaching this point, and has proved himself to be a true leader for up-and-coming athletes with more severe disabilities,” said McLoughlin.

“He has been training exceptionally hard, and I’m looking forward to not only seeing him put this truly unique Paralympic sport into the spotlight in Australia, but for this to ensure a brighter future for the sport.”

Australia were represented by three men and three women at Sydney 2000 but none of them won a medal.

Daniel Michel, seen here competing at the BisFed World Championships, is set to become the first Australian to compete in boccia at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro since Sydney 2000 ©BisFed
Daniel Michel, seen here competing at the BisFed World Championships, is set to become the first Australian to compete in boccia at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro since Sydney 2000 ©BisFed
“I’m really excited to be selected,” said Michel.

It feels like a really good reward for the effort I’ve put in this qualification period.

“Being the first person to represent Australia at a Paralympic Games since Sydney 2000 is a massive honour.

“I’m really proud to have that title and to be doing that for my country.

“I’m hoping it’s going to have a huge impact on the sport and on the reputation and perception of people with severe disabilities.

“The overriding public perception surrounding severe disabilities is that people living with these disabilities aren’t really capable of succeeding in a sporting atmosphere.

“There’s an emphasis on being successful through academia, but sport is never really promoted as an avenue through which people with severe physical disabilities can achieve enjoyment and also success.

“I think when people see boccia at the Paralympics and see all these athletes competing with severe disabilities; it’s going to really widen their ideas of what people with disabilities are capable of doing. It’s going to help shift those perceptions.

“I think it’s going to go a long way in opening the eyes of people living with disabilities, and it’s going to show them the opportunities they have to play and compete in a sport.”

The winner of the Paralympic gold medal in the BC3 class at London 2012 was South Korea’s Ye-lin Choi, who beat team-mate Ho-Won Jeong in the final.

Via Inside the Games