Via Inside the Games
Boccia International Sports Federation (BISFed) President David Hadfield has claimed that 2016 was the “most successful year yet” in the history of the sport.
Hadfield made the assertion during his New Year’s message to BISFed members, where he looked back on the governing body’s achievements over the past 12 months.
He said that boccia is the “fastest growing” Paralympic sport, while reflecting that the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games “produced the most competitive boccia event yet, with an ever higher level of skill on display to record spectator numbers”.
The governing body’s “Making Boccia Accessible” scheme, which is supported by the International Paralympic Committee’s development arm the Agitos Foundation, UK Sport, GB Boccia and law firm Hogan Lovells, was also reflected upon.
It is claimed the programme, which aims to train “ambassadors” in the sport across the world, has helped to introduce boccia to 23 countries which did not have an active presence.
A total of 10,000 people are believed to have participated in the sport as a result of the scheme, with Hadfield stating that BISFed are seeking additional funding to deliver the next stage of the project.
Bahrain, Costa Rica and India were all welcomed to the fold during 2016, taking the number of total member countries to 57.
The number of world ranking events was quadrupled during the 2013 to 2016 quadrennial, while BISFed developed a software system to help support operations and manage competitions effectively.
The competition management system will be used for the first time this year, with the governing body describing it as “world class”.
Updated rules and new tests for boccia balls are set to be completed before this year’s competition schedule begins, while a coaching pathway is expected to be published later in 2017.
Hadfield also encouraged members to consider candidates for elections to the BISFed Board, with several existing members required to step down when their terms come to an end at the governing body’s General Assembly.
The Assembly will take place in Hong Kong on May 27, following the conclusion of the Asia and Oceania Regional Championships.
The BISFed Competition Committee presented their proposal for the 2017-2020 Competition System at the BISFed Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) in March 2016, and the new Competition System was approved and published in July 2016 . In the feedback session at the EGM, it was agreed that a reliable World Ranking system was a key component of an effective competition system. The Committee explained that developing a World Ranking system which would support the new Competition System would be our next priority.
The Competition Committee is now working on a project to update and revise the world ranking system. Most of this work has focused on the key principles that should be underpin an effective ranking system (for example awarding equal points for 1st place at the same type of event held in different regions) and aligning those principles to the proposed events for the 2017-2020 cycle.
With support from UK Sport, BISFed is currently working with a team of mathematical and statistical experts who have expertise in developing ranking systems.
Our aim is to develop a new World Ranking system which will be used in BISFed competitions. The BISFed Board is monitoring the project closely and will provide an update before 31st December 2016.
If you have any questions, please contact Dom Tremblay, Chair of the BISFed Competitions Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org
The BISFed Competition Committee would like to announce the provisional calendar of events for 2017. These events are confirmed subject to contracts so some information may change.
- BISFed 2017 European Regional Open, Saint Cugat – 13-20 April 2017
- BISFed 2017 Asian Regional Open, Dubai – 14-21 April 2017
- BISFed 2017 Americas Regional Open, Montreal – 27-30 April 2017
- BISFed 2017 Asian Regional Championships, Hong Kong – 21-29 May 2017
- BISFed 2017 European Regional Championships, Povoa – 17-24 June 2017
- BISFed 2017 European Regional Open, Poznan – 5-10 July 2017
- BISFed 2017 European World Open, Seville – 31 July – 7 August 2017
- BISFed 2017 Americas Regional Championships, Cali – 14-21 August 2017
- BISFed 2017 Americas World Open, Kansas – 22-29 September 2017
- BISFed 2017 Asian World Open, Bangkok – 2-11 October 2017
- BISFed 2017 Americas Regional Open, Mar del Plata – to be confirmed (Nov/Dec 2017)
The rules committee has been working long and hard sifting through the proposals and responses from our members. We specifically considered FAIRNESS and EQUALITY when making these decisions.
After many hours and much debating we have our first draft of the 12th edition ready to present to you. These rule changes were proposed and accepted from survey results. In page 3 of the Rule book you will notice that we ask for your observances throughout 2017.
The rules are set for 2017. We are accepting comments regarding structure, wording and grammar until Dec 9, 2016. After which, we will have them checked by a law firm. We plan to publish the final version in early January.
- We listened to the athletes. We agree, ramp restrictions make pointer length and seat height restrictions unnecessary.
- We have added more clarity by having better definitions and arranging the rules in chronological order.
- Again, we heard what the athletes are asking. More freedom for BC3 in the throwing boxes – many of the athletes asked for this to equalize sighting capabilities and to be on par with the other divisions that already have freedom in the throwing boxes.
- Penalty balls – athletes expressed concern that often throwing a penalty ball put them at risk of losing points they just earned, because all the balls are so close together around the Jack, especially when playing at the International level. A clear shot to earn the penalty point would be more fair. We have a unique and elegant sport. Spectators understand penalties where the playing field is cleared and the athlete gets a free shot at the target. This benefits the athletes, makes things clearer to the spectators and as a bonus helps the referee. There are some athletes who have already been working on this shot. Reports that have come in, show that success has increased dramatically in just 2 weeks of practicing this shot.
- We listened to the coaches. They asked for more opportunities to coach the Team and Pairs athletes. Now they are permitted to come and speak to them between every end.
With all of us working together Boccia becomes better and better.
At Rio 2016 boccia featured many familiar faces from London 2012 but the results were different. Here is what we learned from the sport after Rio 2016:
1. Yuk Wing Leung is back on top
After failing to reach the podium at the London 2012 Paralympics, Hong Kong’s Yuk Wing Leung avenged himself by winning the mixed individual BC4 title. He won the 2014 World Championship and surged to the No. 1 ranked spot. However, he did not reach the 2016 World finals, showing the stiff competition in the category.
But at Rio 2016, Leung faced many close matches to pull through to the finals. He faced Slovakia’s Samuel Andrejcik in an exciting gold medal match, where Leung triumphed 4-3. Leung scored twice in the final end to secure his first medal since Beijing 2008 and individual gold since Athens 2004.
2. Thailand powerhouse
Thailand claimed five medals (two golds), winning every medal event they competed in including the individual BC2 match which was an all-Thai showdown. Compatriots Worawut Saengampa and Watcharaphon Vongsa dueled for the gold, and it was Saengampa who defeated the defending world champion 5-4. The pair joined forces in the mixed team BC1-2 gold medal match and beat Japan for the title.
Pornchok Larpyen surrendered only one point to South Korea’s Hyeonseok Seo to capture the individual BC4 bronze medal match. Larpyen was also key in the mixed pair BC4 bronze medal comeback success over Great Britain.
Four years ago at London 2012, Thailand took home two gold medals.
3. New pairs BC4 leaders
Brazil’s Eliseu Dos Santos and Jose Dirceu Pinto have dominated the pairs BC4 category since teaming up in 2007. They took gold at both London 2012 and Beijing 2008, and were the heavy favourites to complete a hat-trick at their home Games.
However, the Slovakian team of Andrejcik, Robert Durkovic and Michaela Balcova, entering No. 5 ranked in the world, upset the Brazilian crowd. The reigning European champions, scored in each of the last two ends, whereas Brazil failed to secure points. This could spell the beginning for Slovakia and the end of the Brazilian’s reign.
4. South Korea has a wealth of talent
South Korean athletes competed in six medal events claiming two medals highlighting the continuing development of the sport in the country. Their biggest victory and lone gold came from Ho Won Jeong in the individual BC3, where he dominated Greece’s Grigorious Polychronidis 8-1. It was Jeong’s first individual gold after three Paralympic Games appearances.
South Korea’s other medal came from Games debutant Won Jong Yoo, who took bronze in the BC1.
5. David Smith dominates the BC1
After taking silver at his home Games, Great Britain’s David Smith bounced back to reclaim gold in the individual BC1. He had pretty much dominated every opponent he faced, with the exception of Thailand’s No. 1 ranked Pattaya Tadtong – the very player whom Smith lost the gold to at London 2012. At Rio 2016, the two met in the quarter finals that went into a tiebreak. After getting past Tadtong, Smith cruised in his finals with a 5-0 victory over the Netherlands’ Daniel Perez.
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 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.”
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.
With 85 days to go until the Opening Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games on Tuesday (14 June), the medals which athletes will compete for this September have been revealed by the Organising Committee and Brazilian Mint.
In addition to featuring braille, the Paralympic Games medals include a special innovation; they have a tiny device inside which makes a noise when the medal is shaken, allowing visually impaired athletes to know if they are gold, silver or bronze (gold has the loudest noise, bronze the quietest).
The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games will feature 4,350 athletes who will compete in 528 medal events across 22 sports. They will take place between 7-18 September.
With Rio 2016 fast approaching, we want to take a look at some of the more memorable Boccia moments from London 2012!
We can’t wait for more of the same this September when the Boccia tournament begins on the 3rd of September.
Brazilian boccia star Maciel Santos hailed the new venue for Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, as it was unveiled on Saturday (14 May).
“For me the Paralympic Games start now,” the London 2012 gold medallist said during the inauguration of the venue.
Carioca Arena 2, which will also stage judo and wrestling during the Olympic Games, was unveiled in the Barra Olympic Park. Santos, who won gold in the individual BC2 category in London, and will compete at the new arena in September, has already started to envisage stepping out in front of a home crowd.
“You see yourself, the court, the crowd, your relatives, the Brazilian fans. It will be like how we saw in London. I hope the Brazilian public really gets behind this Paralympic sport,” he said.
Brazilian Olympic champion Sarah Menezes was also excited by the opening of the new arena.
“To see everything ready like this is even more motivation. It’s a sign that it’s nearly here, it’s close,” said the gold medallist in the up to 48kg class at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. “It’s good to know that everything is on track, that the structural things are being sorted.”
The keys to the new venue were handed over from Rio mayor Eduardo Paes to Rio 2016 President Carlos Nuzman. Also present was Christope Dubi, the International Olympic Committee’s sports director, and Brazil’s new sports minister Leonardo Picciani, on his first official engagement.
Dubi was full of praise for the new venue, saying: “When you see an arena like this, everyone [involved] should be proud and I hope they are.”
After the Games, Carioca Arena 2 will become a training facility for weightlifting, wrestling, badminton, fencing, rhythmic gymnastics, trampoline gymnastics and table tennis. It will comprise part of the Olympic Training Centre, the main sporting legacy of the Rio 2016 Games.
A rundown on the athletes battling for the boccia podium at Rio 2016 from the International Paralympic Committee.
Han Soo Kim playing Boccia against Scott Mccowan at London 2012 © • Getty Images
Here are the top athletes going for gold in boccia at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
Daniel Perez (NED)
Perez is currently the world No. 1 in the BC1 individual and will be looking for his first major title at Rio 2016, which would be his Paralympic debut.
In the World Championships in 2014, Perez lost his semi-final to Great Britain’s David Smith, leaving with the bronze medal. In 2015, Perez won gold at the World Open in Poznan, Poland. Perez will try to bounce back though after a disappointing performance from March’s 2016 BISFed Individual World Championships, where he left without a medal.
David Smith (GBR)
Smith won individual silver and team BC1-2 bronze at his home Paralympics in London 2012. In 2013, he won the European title and the following year, he added the world title in Beijing. He finished 2015 ranked second in the world. After the 2016 World Championships in Beijing, China, Smith will be looking to show he can do better following the individual bronze medal finish.
Dirceu Jose Pinto (BRA)
Since Beijing 2008, Pinto has dominated the BC4 in both the individual and pairs. But the class lately has proven to be unpredictable ahead of September’s Paralympics. At the 2016 World Championships in March, Pinto was knocked out early by Hong Kong’s current No. 1 Yuk Wing Leung. Still, Pinto looks to defend the gold medal he won from London 2012, as well as the BC4 pairs gold medal that he won with teammate Eliseu Dos Santos.
Han Soo Kim (KOR)
At London 2012 in the BC3 individual event, Kim lost the semi-finals to Ye Jin Choi, who went on to win the gold. However, in 2014 he won the individual BC3 world title and finished 2015 ranked third in the world. He took bronze in the 2016 Individual World Championships.
Jacob Thomas (GBR)
Thomas made his Paralympic debut in London 2012, and that is where the young athlete got the ball rolling. At the 2013 European Championships in Guimaraes, Portugal, he obtained his first major medal with bronze in the pairs. He also took bronze at the 2014 Individual World Championships and has progressed to No. 1 in the individual BC3 class. Although he did not compete in March’s World Championships, he looks to establish why he is ranked at the top of his class at Rio 2016.
Maciel Sousa Santos (BRA)
Santos has consistently been among the top of his class, both in individual and pair events. At London 2012, Santos topped the BC2 class to win his first Paralympic gold and took bronze at the 2014 World Championships. He was in the Brazilian team that won gold in the team BC1-2 event at the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games, where he also took the individual title. However, in the 2016 World Championships, he finished a disappointing eighth but looks to show why he is still the top one come Rio 2016.
Marco Dispaltro (CAN)
At the 2011 Parapan American Games, Dispaltro took silver in the individual BC4 event and was part the pair that claimed bronze at London 2012. He finished 2015 ranked second in the world but faces stiff competition in the BC4, with rivals such as Leung and Pinto in the mix.
Yuk Wing Leung (HKG)
Rio would be Leung’s fourth Paralympic Games. Leung made his mark in Athens 2004, where he won gold in the BC4 individual and pairs events, but he has not won a Paralympic title since.
The current world No. 1 and Laureus Sports Award nominee finished the 2016 World Championships with bronze and looks to take a title in Rio 2016.