Having been born with spinal muscular atrophy type 2, a condition primarily characterised by muscle weakness, Daniel Michel never had the opportunity to participate in sport.
However, after attending a Muscular Dystrophy NSW camp as a 15-year-old, his talent for boccia was recognised immediately by its program director, Peter King, who encouraged him to pursue it at its highest level.
Just two years later, Daniel competed at his first international competition, the 2013 BISFed Asia Oceania Championships, where he progressed to the quarter-finals, and in 2016 he and his ramp assistant, Ashlee McClure, made their Paralympic debut at the Games in Rio.
As the first Australian athlete to compete in boccia since 2000, Daniel did incredibly well to place 2nd in his pool. However, his sights have always been firmly set on winning Paralympic gold, and he is already looking ahead to Tokyo 2020 to make this dream a reality.
A huge cricket fan, Daniel looks to former Australian captain Michael Clarke for inspiration. Like his role model, Daniel wants to do Australia proud and make history by winning its first Paralympic medal in the BC3 classification, and second ever.
Daniel has paved the way for other emerging boccia athletes, but admits that his journey has not always been smooth sailing. He recalls being so nervous ahead of his first NSW Junior Championships, he forgot to bring his equipment and had to borrow from a competitor.
Before competing, the Heathcote local likes to calm his mind through deep breathing, and although he says that he isn’t superstitious, he makes sure to wear the same pair of shoes to every training session, and a second pair to every international match.
Daniel is bilingual, speaking both Dutch and English fluently, and is in the process of completing a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Wollongong. When asked how he would spend his last $10, he gave the answer typical of any finance student – ‘invest it in shares’.
Daniel loves to watch sport, especially cricket and rugby league, and is obsessed with the Sydney Roosters.