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Australia’s pairs team of Dan Michel and Jamieson Leeson will start their campaign at the Boccia World Championships in Rio next week on a high after their win at a hotly contested World Cup event in Bahrain just weeks ago.

The three-player Australian team, which includes Tokyo 2020 Paralympic representative Spencer Cotie, will join more than 170 athletes from over 40 countries to compete for the biggest prize in the sport outside of the Paralympic Games.

The players and their ramp assistants held an intense three-day camp at Sydney Olympic Park before heading to Rio for the tournament, which will take place at the venue used for the 2016 Paralympics.

It will be Leeson’s first World Championship and the rising star from Dunedoo in the NSW Central West is confident after she and Michel won the gold medal in the BC3 Pairs classification at the World Boccia Cup in November after breaking through with gold at the World Cup event in Rio earlier this year, where Michel and ramp assistant Ash McClure also took out the singles.

“We only had Tokyo last year and that had been my only comp for two years. So it’s been good to get back into it this year and we’ve had great results, particularly in the pairs, winning both of our World Cups which was awesome, especially in Bahrain,” Leeson said.

“It was a perfect warm up a few weeks ago for the World Champs. It’ll be really exciting to play in both the individuals and pairs this year and hopefully get some good results.”

Boccia national coach Ken Halliday said he was proud of the team’s development, but challenged each of the trio to lift their results in the singles.

“Our preparation has been pretty short but it’s been quality training and I expect we’ll do really well at the World Championships,” Halliday said.

“We did really well in the pairs in Bahrain, winning the gold medal over some really good teams. I’m hoping we do a bit better in the individual competition, which I’m pretty sure we will.

“I’m very proud of what the team’s done this year. It hasn’t been easy, coming out of Covid and all the rest of it. It’s been difficult, but they’ve done really well and I’m sure they’re all pretty confident of doing well over there.”

By: David Sygall, Paralympics Australia
Posted: 30 November 2022