Levine and boccia teammates ready to shine in Tokyo

Canadian Paralympic Committee

August 13, 2021

World number one leads four-member boccia squad


Alison Levine was mighty proud of her world number-one ranking, first achieved in 2019 and solidified in the last world rankings published in March 2020. She became the first woman to achieve that feat and she wants to make more history in Tokyo.

Some of the Montreal player’s top opponents in the BC4 category at the Paralympic Games include her teammates. Veteran Marco Dispaltro is headed to his third Paralympics and won the gold medal in 2019 at the Parapan Am Games in Lima, Peru. He also took Paralympic bronze in London 2012 in the pairs event. 

Iulian Ciobanu completes a powerful Canadian trio which is not only be a threat in the individual event but the pairs competition. Ciobanu has been a pairs (there are three players in pairs) team member for Canada in BC4 at every major event since and including Rio 2016.

The trio can expect tough opposition from the world number-one Slovakian team. Michaela Balcova has been a valuable component in the country’s lethal pairs BC4 force. She and Paralympic individual champion Samuel Andrejcik have been mainstays on the team that have been victorious at the 2016 Paralympics, 2018 Worlds and 2019 Europeans. 

Boccia was initially a sport for athletes with cerebral palsy, but now includes athletes who have any kind of neurological impairment that impacts their motor function. 

Athletes are split into four classes, BC1-4, where all players compete in wheelchairs due to significant coordination impairment affecting both legs and arms. Some players play using their feet and others may use an assistive device such as a ramp or pointer to deliver the ball.

The rookie on the Canadian team is 20-year-old standout Danik Allard who’ll compete in the BC2 category. In 2019, he climbed to 14th in the world rankings which included third and fourth place finishes in international events.

One of his top opponents in Tokyo will be another young star Worawut Saengapa of Thailand who captured the individual world title in 2018 and added a gold from the Asian Para Games later that year to sit at No. 1 in the world.

‘’I just want to capitalize on this opportunity to get some valuable experience,’’ said Allard. ‘’I want to have fun, have great memories. I’ll try and compete like it’s just another tournament, even though it’s a big event.’’

Boccia is one of two sports on the Paralympic program that does not have an Olympic counterpart (the other sport is goalball) and has been on the Games schedule since 1984.

The boccia events in Tokyo run from August 28 to September 4.

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