From the seat of his motorized wheelchair, Josh Vander Vies tucks the small leather ball between his chin and the stump that is his left arm until the red sphere is steadied.
Then he lifts his chin, takes aim and swings his stump, softly releasing the ball on a 10-foot throw and watching it roll deftly past a blue opponent’s ball to nestle up to the white jack ball.
Inspirational stories are the Paralympics stock in trade, but there are few as compelling as that of Vander Vies, not just for his remarkable ability to play a game so tactical and strategic, but also in the way he has led a life that has been all about creating opportunities.
His sport is boccia, one of three Paralympic specific sports – the others being goalball and wheelchair rugby. And despite being born with no legs and just stumps for arms, Vander Vies, a UBC law student, is one of the world’s best.
On Tuesday, he and BC4 pairs partner, Marco Dispaltro, captured a bronze medal, silencing all but the healthy Canadian contingent inside the Excel Centre by handily defeating a duo from Britain 8-2.