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.)
Via GB Boccia
Jamie McCowan beat Patrick Wilson in a tight match in the semi final of the individual BC3 competition having already overcome him in the pool stage. McCowan ended up with silver after a 6-2 loss to Korea’s Howon Jeong in the final. Wilson took bronze after a 5-2 win over Russia’s Aleksandr Legostaev.
The individual competition had followed a strong BC3 Pairs run for the British duo which ended with a bronze medal. McCowan and Wilson met the Korean pair in the semi and lost 4-1 but beat Russia by the same score to take home a medal.
Will Hipwell in the individual BC2 and Jamie Docherty in the individual BC4 were the other GB players at the event but neither made it out of their pool.
For participants in this weekend’s Atlantic Boccia Championships, it wasn’t just about trying to defeat the competition and come out on the winning side.
“I think what’s important to keep in mind is, like my mom tells me, you’re playing for fun,” said Abby Quigley, 13, of St. John’s. “You’re not playing for competitive stuff. You’re only playing for fun. That’s basically what boccia and every sport is about.”
The inaugural Atlantic championship was hosted by Easter Seals Newfoundland and Labrador.
Athletes and coaches from Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick were on hand for the two-day event, which got underway Saturday morning at the Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Centre in St. John’s.
“For 10 years, I’ve had an Invacare chair,” said Vander Vies, originally from Sarnia, Ont., now living in Vancouver. “Invacare are leaders in Canada in terms of performance equipment. This performance factor gives me the confidence that I need on the boccia court to make the high stakes shots.”
For Jake Periard, a student at Farley Mowat Public School in Nepean, in CHEO for an eye infection, the experience was “awesome.”
He was enthralled by Paralympic boccia player Marco Dispaltro’s equipment as they plotted where to find a quiet hallway to share a quick demonstration.
“Marco was very cool,” he said. “I had to stay in bed all day yesterday. Today was the funnest day of my life.”
Some of Canada’s Paralympians who competed in the London Games arrived at YVR to a small crowd of well wishers early this afternoon.
Michelle Stilwell, a wheelchair spritner from Nanoose Bay, BC, was showing off the Silver medal she won in the T52 100 metres and the Gold medal she won in the 200 metres.
Josh Vander Vies picked up a bronze, with his partner Marco Dispaltro, in the Boccia Mixed Pairs BC 4 event. The duo defeated a team from Great Britain 8-2 for the victory.
One of my most enjoyable experiences so far at the London Paralympics was meeting and interviewing the Canadian bronze medal-winning boccia team of Josh Vander Vies and Marco Dispaltro. These men are the best possible ambassadors for their sport – or any sport. They are articulate, bilingual and ooze self awareness.
Boccia is somewhat similar to lawn bowling, but is played indoors instead of outside. The aim of the game is to get your team’s balls closer to the white ball (jack ball) than you opponents’. Like Curling, only one team can score per end.
Vander Vies, a Sarnia, Ont., native who I first met when he was 11 years old, is now a 27-year-old studying law at the University of British Columbia. He already holds an honours double degree in political Science and French from the University of Western Ontario. He is an athlete representative for both the International Boccia Committee and the Canadian Paralympic Committee. And in his spare time he has become one of the top 20 boccia players in the world.
His partner, the 45-year-old Dispaltro, has a rich sporting heritage. The St-Jerome, Que., native comes from a wheelchair rugby background. In fact, he played the game for many years and then acted as the sport’s High Performance Director in Canada. Following that he was hired as head coach of the Swedish wheelchair rugby team, which he ran very successfully until 2008. He played boccia for the first time in 2010, and is obviously a natural. But he takes nothing for granted, training religiously in pursuit of perfection.
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.
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 opponents 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 worlds best.
Peter and Stephen McGuire went up against Canadian team Josh vander Vies and Marco Dispaltro, who started off stronger at the ExCel Arena.
The Canadians were more accurate in their throws, which helped them reach a score of eight, while the British duo could only manage to get two points on the board.