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:
Eric Bussiere (Arthabaska, Que.)
Paul Gauthier (Vancouver, B.C.)*
Marylou Martineau (Québec City, Que.)
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.)