At the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, Daniel Michel became the first Australian athlete to compete in uniquely Paralympic sport of boccia since Sydney 2000.
Since Dan discovered the boccia at the age of 15, he has had his sights firmly set on not only winning Australia’s first Paralympic medal in the sport since 1996, but making that medal a gold.
Dan is already looking to Tokyo 2020 to make this dream a reality after losing his final pool match against world number three, Gregorios Polychoronidis at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
Born with spinal muscular atrophy type 2, Dan found it difficult to participate in most sports but since finding boccia, he has competed at a number of events both nationally and internationally.
Dan was first introduced to the sport while at a camp conducted by Muscular Dystrophy NSW. Although he had never played the sport before, his talents were immediately recognised by APC Boccia Program director Peter King who encouraged him to take his new passion to the highest level possible. Two years later, Dan competed at his first international competition, the 2013 BisFed Asia Oceania Championships where he made it through to the quarter finals.
As a huge cricket fan, Dan turns to Australian captain Michael Clarke for inspiration, admiring his ability to represent his country while leading the world’s best cricket team. Just like his role model, Dan wants to do Australia proud and make history for his sport in Australia.
While Dan’s quick ascent in boccia has already paved the way for other emerging boccia athletes, he admits that his journey hasn’t always been smooth sailing. He recalls his first NSW Junior Championships where he was so nervous, he forgot to bring his equipment and had to borrow them from a competitor.
Before each competition, Dan likes to work on calming his mind through deep breathing. And while he says he isn’t superstitious, he makes sure he wears the same pair of shoes to every training session and another pair at every international match he competes in.
Off the boccia court, Dan is on his way to completing a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Wollongong, and with a his finance hat on, says if he was ever down to his last $10, he would invest it in shares and build up his wealth.
Dan is also bilingual, speaking both Dutch and English. His favourite movie is The Departed and loves watching American TV drama, 24.