Earlier today, BISFed published the list of competitors who have qualified for the Boccia World Championships that officially gets underway on September 19 in Beijing, China. Two Australians are on the list: Jason Mayweather and Daniel Michel. Mayweather is the second best ranked Australian in the BC2 individual event at 40th, behind Fiona Lyons who is currently ranked 30th. Michel is the top ranked Australian in the world in the BC3 individual event at 35th.
Boccia is undergoing a growth and rebuilding phase in Australia, following a decline in the sport after the 2000 Summer Paralympics that saw the country not send a competitor to the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Games. The sport was never a medal winner for Australia, with the last one won in Atlanta. The sport was recently was added to the high performance program at the Australia Paralympic Committee, who are targeting it as a sport where they are trying to get people qualified for Rio, and to have medal contenders by 2020. The program met their non-medal target expectation at last year’s Asia and Oceania Championships. The Australian Institute of Sport considers the sport to be on track for the targets set for it, in contrast to goalball and powerlifting.
Canada, who has been staging several national team training camps in Montreal in the lead up to the event, have ten total boccia players across all four classes on the list to compete. Included on the list is BC4 classified Marco Dispaltro, the Canadian dragonslayer who is currently ranked second in the world. Canada’s Alison Levine, one of the only high level female Canadian players, also made the cut.
Thailand has a whopping eleven players who qualified. The United States has six competitors on the list set to compete. Spain qualified seven total competitors in three of the four classes, including Wafid Boucherit Bendahmane, Francisco Javier Martínez Fernandez Aceytuno and Sandra Peña Cortes in the BC3 class. Fernandez and Peña both represented Spain at the 2012 Summer Paralympics, but neither won a medal. Peña has been nationally ranked as the best player in her class, and is currently ranked 19th in the world.
As ParaSport News understands the process, national delegations now have the opportunity to nominate individual athletes not on the list to compete. Once those nominations are in, BISFed will invite the top ranked remaining boccia players to fill in any remaining competition spots.