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Boccia: A Game of Inches

Boccia

Toronto, ON - Aug 8 2015 - Marco Dispaltroa and Alison Levine compete in Pairs BC4 - Round 3 in the Abilities Centre during the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games (Photo: Matthew Murnaghan/Canadian Paralympic Committee)

Watching boccia for the first time live was very exciting. It was great to see para athletes with different abilities on how focus they were when making a shot. The competition I found was really tight and anyone could have won. It was literally a game of inches. The goal of the game is to throw leather balls, coloured red or blue closest to a target ball to score the most points, which is also called a jack. The game is played for four ends and each individual uses six balls per end.

I was most excited to see Marco Dispaltro, who was Canada’s flag bearer at the opening ceremonies and world #1 in the BC4 category. He has overcome many obstacles being born with muscular dystrophy, and has also been a multisport athlete in wheelchair rugby and tennis. In these Parapan Games, Dispaltro faced Diaz Grisales from Colombia in a intense quarterfinal match. Unfortunately, Dispaltro lost 5 – 2.

Toronto, ON – Aug 8 2015 – Marco Dispaltro, Alison Levine and Caroline Vietnieks receive their Silver medals in Boccia Pairs BC4 in the Abilities Centre during the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games (Photo: Matthew Murnaghan/Canadian Paralympic Committee)

When asked if experience in other para sports has helped him, here is what he said, “It’s help me immeasurably, you go out there and you already got that sports sense. It’s been invaluable, today unfortunately the guy played better than me, but in general I think when you’ve done other sports, any team sports, or any sports in general, you’re going to have a bit of an advantage.”

In another quarterfinal match, Alison Levine also in the BC4 category defeated Tadeo Villagra from Argentina 8 – 2 after scoring five points in the third end to advance to the semifinals.

Toronto, ON – Aug 11 2015 – Alison Levine competes in the Individual BC4 – Semifinal Match 4 in the Abilities Centre during the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games (Photo: Matthew Murnaghan/Canadian Paralympic Committee)

When asked how boccia enables her, here is what she said, “Never in my life did I think I’d would be travelling the world, going to world championships, probably going to Paralympics next year and here at Parapan Am. Never ever thought i’d be doing the things in travelling and meeting the people i’ve been meeting and feeling part of such a community and it’s such a great community.”

Toronto, ON – Aug 11 2015 – Adam Dukovich completes in the Individual BC2 – Semifinal Match 3 in the Abilities Centre during the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games (Photo: Matthew Murnaghan/Canadian Paralympic Committee)

When I asked the Canadian team about what advice they would give to individuals with different abilities who want to pursue sports. Adam Dukovich who defeated Sebastian Gonzales from Argentina in a close 3 – 2 game to advance to the semifinals, said “they should just go out and try different sports which was echoed from the entire team.”

If you’re inspired as much as I am by Marco and the rest of the team Canada’s boccia team, check out the following boccia clubs in your area!

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