By Georgia Grimond, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Twenty-two competitors from five counties battled it out in the Aquece Rio boccia test event which finished on Saturday November 14th. Organizers and participants were pleased with how the event ran despite the competition taking place in the Rio Centro Pavilion 4 in Barra, not the Carioca Arena 2 where it will be held during the Olympic Games next year.
“Even though it was not in the same venue that will host boccia at the Paralympic Games (Carioca Arena 2), we had similar conditions, such as the playing the surface, general structure and ‘look’ of the Games,” Joaquim Viegas of the Boccia International Sports Federation said to Rio 2016
Boccia is a paralympic game of precision where competitors throw colored balls as close as possible to a white one, or jack. It is played by athletes who have cerebral palsy or similar disabilities that affect motor skills and is divided into four categories depending on an athlete’s mobility.
Brazil was well represented on the podium with Maciel Santos picking up two golds, one in a team event and another in the individual BC2 event. Fellow countryman Hygor Santos won gold in the BC3 class.
The host country will have high hopes for their boccia players at the up-coming Paralympic Games, which will take place on September 7th to 18th 2016. The Brazilian team swept the board at this year’s Parapan Games, winning golds in all the individual categories and two team events.
The British will also be hoping to do well next year. David Smith picked up gold in BC1 competition over the weekend. His coach, Chris Wagg, said that in general his team had had a good experience and that it had been helpful to travel to Brazil in order to assess considerations like distances and accessibility, as well as to complete the flight with his competitors.
The next Aquece Rio test event to take place is the table tennis. It will be held in Rio Centro Pavilion 4 beginning on November 18th.