The final touches are being put to the Australian boccia team’s training as they prepare to take on the region’s best at the 2013 Asia and Oceania Boccia Championships in Sydney next week.
The first of three mandatory qualifying events for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, this will be the first big test for the Australian team as they begin their journey on the road to Rio.
In the largest international boccia event ever held in Australia outside the Paralympic Games, the 2013 Asia and Oceania Boccia Championships will see 76 athletes from nine countries compete for 21 medals across seven classes.
Held from the 21st – 25th October, the championships will feature athletes from countries including Australia, Japan, Thailand, New Zealand, China and Korea.
“As a mandatory qualifier for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, this is a great chance for our Australian team to test themselves against the world’s best, including reigning Paralympic champions, and play on home soil as their campaign for 2016 heats up,” said Boccia Australia President Robert Marshall.
“Australia has not sent a boccia team to the Paralympic Games since Sydney 2000 and we’re hoping we can turn this around and get a team to Rio. The Paralympic boccia program has taken an enormous step up in recent years with more people playing the sport across the country and dedicated coaches and sport science and sports medicine staff now working with the squad.”
“This is the first major competition for Paralympic qualification for our athletes and I’m excited to see what they can do.”
Boccia tests each competitor’s degree of muscle control and accuracy. Seated, athletes throw, kick or use a ramp to propel six leather balls as close as possible to a white ball which serves as the jack (target).
Competitors generally have a high level of physical impairment and it is particularly beneficial for people with severe cerebral palsy, post polio syndrome, locomotor disabilities such as muscular dystrophy, quadriplegia or multiple sclerosis and those with limited movement.
“This highly skilled and strategic game was originally developed from bowls and bocce as a sport suitable for people with the highest level of physical impairment but has grown to be more than just a pastime,” said Paul van Oosten, Pathways and Participation Senior Manager at the Australian Paralympic Committee.
“For many athletes with physical impairments, their sporting pathways can be limited. Boccia is a sport that can be played and enjoyed by anyone, whether it is at a local club level or at an international level,” said van Oosten.
The 2013 Asia and Oceania Boccia Championships will also be telecast for the first time throughout Australia and the world through the event web casting during the last three days of the event. This multi camera webcast along with expert commentary will capture all the highlights and key action from the event. To keep up to date with details about the web casting, visit: boccia.para-sport-live.com
For more information about the Championships, daily results, and how you can get involved with boccia, visit:www.boccia2013.com.au