Daniel Michel has today won his first Rio 2016 pool match in a dream start for Australia’s first boccia athlete to qualify for the Paralympic Games since Sydney 2000.
Ranked number 15 in the world in the BC3 class, Michel defeated Great Britain’s Jamie McCowan 3-2 win in a match which came down to the final ball throw.
“It was very tough, but we knew it was going to be a hard game,” said the 21-year-old Paralympic debutant.
“Jamie is a really good player, and it was really great to be able to get there in the end.”
Still reveling in the excitement of competing at the pinnacle event in his sport, Michel said: “It’s taken me until now, but I’ve just realised I’ve won my first match at my first Paralympic Games. Sitting back thinking about it, it’s really, really cool to have done that.”
While Michel and his ramp assistant Ashlee McClure still have one more pool match to go before proceeding to the quarter finals, the BC3 class is split into pools of three athletes. Each win is critical to getting him closer to the medal rounds.
“I probably didn’t want it to be quite as close a game, but it’s the Paralympics and you have to take them any way you can get them, so I’m happy with that,” he said.
Tomorrow, Michel will compete against Grigorios Polychronidis of Greece, who he has never defeated previously.
“With a win under my belt, I’m definitely feeling good but he’s world number three,” he explained.
“He’s in really good shape so it’s going to be another tough game. It’s pretty much do or die from here, and we knew that coming in, so we’ll do our best to prepare and do our best again tomorrow.”
Making its debut as a Paralympic sport in 1984, boccia tests each competitor’s degree of muscle control and accuracy. Competing in wheelchairs, athletes with severe impairments throw, kick or use a ramp device to propel a series of six leather balls as close to a target known as a jack.
Michel will compete tomorrow at 2:15am AEDT.