SportsParalympic boccia: a precision art, no old men's game

Paralympic boccia: a precision art, no old men’s game

-

Tokyo, Japan: Boccia sounds remarkably simple. Throw one or more of six coloured balls closer to a white target ball, or jack, than your opponent.

Simple? Think again. This sport is a combination of chess, snooker and bowls where strategy, precision, steely nerves — and a little luck — all come into play.

One of two Paralympic Sports at Tokyo 2020 that has no Olympic equivalent, it shares similarities with the French game of boules or the Italian equivalent, bocce.

The game traces its roots back to Ancient Greece and Egypt and is thought to be one of the oldest sports played by humans.

But this is no game played by old men on dusty Italian or French town squares, this is gripping — and addictive to watch.

Designed so athletes with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy or any kind of neurological impairment that impacts motor function can take part, boccia has been part of the Paralympics since 1984.

Players in wheelchairs use throws from hands, feet or helped by assistive devices such as ramps and pointers, to deliver the leather balls which are filled with plastic granules so they do not bounce and are easy to grip.

‘Incredibly impressive’

Whichever method is employed, angles, trajectory, speed and a calculating brain are crucial to prevail on an indoor playing field roughly the size of a badminton court.

But leading Canadian player Julian Ciobanu, who has muscular dystrophy, compares it to another sport.

“It’s like archery,” he told AFP on Sunday after winning his second consecutive pool match in the BC4 class at the Ariake Gymnasium in Tokyo.

“But you are shooting with your hand or foot.”

Some boccia players have severe physical impairments, and Ciobanu, who competes in the unassisted category and throws conventionally from his hand, is in awe of some of his fellow boccia athletes and the accuracy with which they can deliver each shot.

“It’s incredibly impressive when you see these people with their physical limits,” he said. “It’s a precise sport.

“It’s a sport that involves a lot of passion, a lot of concentration and a lot of strategies, like a game of chess. You need to play with a lot of confidence and always think two or three bowls ahead.”

One of the flamboyant stars of the sport is Britain’s David Smith, who is aiming for a second straight BC1 Paralympic gold.

Unmistakable with his striking blue and red mohawk-like hairstyle, Smith identified one other attribute you need in boccia, and it’s one you can’t control.

“I had to dig in a bit and get a little bit of luck,” said Smith after squeezing past Argentina’s Mauricio Ibarbure 4-3 in a titanic pool tussle.

“Sometimes it’s all about the run of the ball on this floor,” added Smith who won the silver at London 2012 and is chasing a third straight Paralympics Games medal.

“Games can be won and lost by little details, so yeah I’ll take all the luck I can get, to be honest,” said Smith who holds a “triple crown” of major tournament titles — 2016 Paralympics, 2018 World Championships and 2019 European Championships.

Individual medals in the four classes of competition, which are all open for men and women, will be decided in finals on Wednesday, followed by pairs and team competitions which conclude on Saturday.

AFP
AFP is a leading global news agency for comprehensive, verified coverage of events shaping the world.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest news

Top Reasons To Get Solar Lights for Your Community

Consider investing in solar lights for your neighborhood. Check out these top reasons to get solar lights for your...

Tips for How To Plan the Perfect Outdoor Getaway

An outdoor vacation is a great way to relax and recharge. However, outdoor vacations require more preparation and planning...

5 Things To Do With Your Travel Souvenirs

Many people collect trinkets to remember their thrilling travels. However, it’s easy to let these items sit around and...

Hidden Gems: Stunning American Canyons To Explore

Canyoners certainly have a pulse on some of the most beautiful places in America. Canyons are a testament to...

5 Things You Can’t Forget Before Going on Vacation

Due to the chaos that ensues before you leave for a vacation, the items you need the most are...

Ways Technology Is Helping theEnvironment

There are many ways technology is helping the environment, from the trailblazing work of drones in sustainable agriculture to the...

Must read

You might also likeRELATED
Recommended to you