Canada’s Boccia team will get one final tune-up before the Paralympic Games as six athletes have made their way to Póvoa de Vazim, Pt., for the World Open.
Led by head coach Mario Delisle (Ottawa, Ont.) and veteran Marco Dispaltro (St-Jérôme, Que.), Canada will be in the hunt for several medals in this highly competitive international tournament. Dispaltro won the Póvoa World Open in 2014 — the same year he held the world number one ranking.
Delisle said Dispaltro and his teammates are looking forward to the chance to build some momentum heading into Rio.
“This event is always well organized and this year many of the best athletes in the world are here to test their skills one last time before the Paralympic Games,” Delisle said. “The athletes are going to face a lot of adversity and will need to stay focused on the task throughout the event. It will be an excellent opportunity to see where we are at and to make some adjustments in the last sprint in preparing for Rio. Marco Dispaltro is certainly looking for defending the title he earned here in 2014.”
Dispaltro competes in the BC4 classification along with teammates Alison Levine (Montréal, Que.) and Caroline Vietnieks (Burnaby, BC.).
Vietnieks and Levine both found success at last years Parapan Ams in Toronto, landing on the podium with silver medals. The confidence they have on the court is at an all-time high.
“This is the last sanctioned tournament before the Paralympics and there is going to be some high calibre play. Coming off a strong tournament in Montreal, I am feeling confident,” said Levine. “Although winning medals is great, this tournament is more about preparation for Rio so we will be paying very close attention to our opponents and our own gameplay in order to best prepare us for September.”
Philippe Lord (Montreal, Que.), 22, will be making his international competition debut in Portugal after winning gold in the BC3 pairs event and bronze in the BC3 singles at the Canadian Championships in March. Joining him in the BC3 classification are Paul Gauthier (Vancouver, BC.) and Éric Bussière (Arthabaska, Que.).
Gauthier has put together a remarkable career with five Paralympic appearances to date. He struck gold at the 2004 games in Athens and is coming off a home-court gold medal at the Parapan Ams last summer. He also stood atop the podium at the Canadian Championships this year, while teammate Bussière took silver home.
The tournament gets underway on Monday, June 13 and wraps up on Sunday, June 19. Follow @reportonrio for updates on Canadian scheduling and scores.
Photo Credit: Matthew Murnaghan/Canadian Paralympic Committee