Two of Australia’s most promising boccia athletes Daniel Michel and Jason Mayweather will aim to boost themselves into the world’s top 20 when they compete at the Boccia World Open in Poznan, Poland tomorrow.
With Rio 2016 drawing nearer, the Open will be one of the last sanctioned competition opportunities for both athletes to lift their rankings and secure a position at next year’s Games.
“Poland will be crucial for Dan and Jason, and both know the pressure they’re under to do well,” says Australian Boccia Head Coach Peter King.
“Both Jason and Dan are currently ranked at number 26 in the world in the BC2 and BC3 categories respectively, and while 24 compete at Rio, it’s important they’re high up enough so that they’re not cut by athletes who qualify through direct spots, wildcards and from spots available to countries that have qualified through the pairs discipline.”
King believes that the Open in Poland will provide 19-year-old BC3 athlete Dan Michel with enough qualification points to get himself to next year’s Boccia World Cup, the final tournament that determines world rankings ahead of Rio 2016.
“Dan is really on the brink of breaking through in international boccia. Out of all the players who competed at the Asian and Oceanian Championships in 2013, Dan has progressed the most.”
“His skill and partnership with his ramp assistant has improved substantially, and he’s really building up to medalling. It’s only a matter of time, and there’s a good chance he could do that in Poland.”
Like Michel, Mayweather too is expected to compete well despite only having four weeks to prepare himself for the competition ahead. Originally scheduled to compete at the Continental Cup in South Africa, the Brisbane-based cerebral palsy athlete found himself struggling to find an international competition since the tournament was cancelled earlier this year.
As the national federation for the sport, the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) found the opportunity, and King believes the short time frame to prepare has been a blessing in disguise for Mayweather.
“Jason has only had four weeks to prepare but the depth of competition in his class would have been more challenging in South Africa. He won’t be up against the heavy weights of the boccia world, and he also has this competitive edge, where he plays better in high pressure situations and that will see him shine.”
“It’s well within his capability to perform really well and gain the qualification points he needs. I’m really looking forward to seeing him progress.”
Following the Boccia World Open, Mayweather and Michel will compete at one more international tournament this year, the World Open in Korea this July where they will hope to qualify for the World Cup.
Australia has not competed in boccia at the Paralympic Games since Sydney 2000, and last won a medal at the Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Games with Kris Bignall and Tu Huyhn winning bronze.
Since investing more funding into boccia following the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, the APC’s high performance goal for the developing sport has been to send a boccia team to Rio 2016 and achieve medal success at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
By APC Media