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Boccia athletes have a huge medal-winning year

What a great year it’s been for Cerebral Palsy Alliance boccia athletes. Australia’s High Performance team has won seven medals since January 1 – an amazing achievement for our size and standing in the international boccia world.

Daniel Michel is the hero of 2017 with three gold medal wins. He and Spencer Cotie brought home Australia’s first ever international gold medals for boccia from the Kansas World Open in September, taking out the BC3 Pairs class.

During the same competition Daniel added the Singles BC3 gold gong to his Pairs win. Then several days later he collected a BC3 gold medal in Bangkok, beating two high-ranked Koreans to get to the final in which he convincingly beat Russian Maxim Vassiliev. Plus he left Bangkok with a bronze that he won partnering Cally Simpson in the Pairs.

Dan and Spencer also collected the BC3 Pairs Silver medal won in Dubai earlier in the year.

The boccia crew are pictured in Bangkok. From left in the front row are boccia athletes, Cally Simpson, Dan Michel and Jean-Paul La Fontaine. In the back row is their support team, Peter King, Zoe Dix, Ash McClure and Ken Halliday.

Daniel was ranked 13 in the world going into the Kansas competition and it is expected he will now move into the top 10.

The other medal winning athletes of 2017 were:

•  Spencer Cotie who won silver and bronze in Dubai and a gold in Kansas. Classified as a BC3 athlete, he is also busy studying for his High School Certificate this year. Spencer is expected to become a top 10 Boccia player in the near future.

•  Jean-Paul LaFontaine, 46, took a bronze home from Dubai in April. Classified as a BC4, he currently sits at number 23 in the world and has the potential to make the Tokyo Paralympic games in 2020.

•  Cally Simpson, 36, won a bronze in Bangkok. A BC3 athlete she is an excellent pairs partner for Dan.

•  Sarah Mutton, 22, won a bronze in Dubai. Sarah was recently classified out of the BC4 class into the BC5 class, and is therefore unable to qualify for Tokyo. Now she must look beyond to Paris in 2024.

“We are expecting very positive changes to the world ranking places held by the current Australian singles and pairs athletes in the BC3 and BC4 classifications,” says Peter King, Manager Sports Development, Cerebral Palsy Alliance who is also Head Coach of the boccia squad.

This will reflect the hard work put in by the athletes and the coaching staff since 2012 when the current High Performance team was first put together.

Peter emphases that success in international sport does not happen overnight.

“Athletes with medal potential are selected and carefully developed over years. There have been defeats to learn from along the way but our group commitment is now paying off big time.”

The next tournament will be in Japan in March and after a short break the team will begin training and preparation for 2018.

To learn more about the Cerebral Palsy Alliance sports programs call Peter King on 0418 467 702 or email pking@cerebralpalsy.org.au or phone Sue Olsen on 0419 600 819 or email solsen@cerebralpalsy.org.au.

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