Anybody new to boccia would be forgiven for looking at the current world rankings and thinking that Asian athletes dominate the game. All 7 disciplines have an individual, team or pair from Asia sat firmly at the top of the rankings table going in to the 2016 Paralympic Games.
Thailand has dominated the BC1 class in recent history with favourite Pattaya Tadtong likely to become a double Paralympic Champion in the individual competition. He will team up with Subin Tipmanee (BC1), Worawut Saengampa (BC2) and Watcharaphon Vongsa (BC2) in the team event. Pattaya has had a tremendous rivalry with David Smith (Great Britain) over the last 4 years with the Great British athlete briefly occupying the World Number 1 slot in 2013/14. This will be one rivalry to keep an eye on in Rio!
Worawit Saengampa and Watcharaphon Vongsa will not just be satisfied with taking home a medal in the team event with Tadtong and Tipmanee for Thailand. Both athletes have a real chance to win the BC2 individual gold but will first have to overcome Zhiqiang Yan of China. The Chinese athlete has been far from formidable of late but has been one of the most consistent athletes in the world with top 5 finishes in each of his last 5 events. Saengampa however has been victorious on each of his last 3 outings including the World Individual Championship that were held in Beijing earlier this year.
The BC3 class is dominated by the Korean athletes. Ho Won Jeong and Han Soo Kim occupy the number 1 and 2 spots on the rankings but they will face a strong challenge from their fellow compatriot Ye Jin Choi. Choi came 4th in the recent World Individual Championships and will be hoping to go one better in Rio. One athlete unlucky to not get selected is Yun Jup Kim. Kim was top of the podium in a Korean 1,2,3 at the Asian Para Games in 2014 but will find himself watching from home this time around. Can the Koreans make it another 1,2,3 in Brazil?
Hong Kong’s Yuk Wing Leung has been the man to beat throughout the last quadrennial. He showed excellent form in Beijing, Seoul and Cali but Great Britain’s Stephen McGuire will be hoping to find the same form he was able to produce in Beijing to take the Gold. One man to watch however is the Canadian Marco Dispaltro. Dispaltro, a former World Numer 1, had a disappointing World Championships in March and will be hoping to prove to the world exactly why he occupied the top spot in 2014.
The opening ceremony for the games in on Wednesday 7th September with the bocciaa starting on the 10th September in Rio Centro 2.
- European Challengers
- Brazilian Athletes to Watch
- Ones to Watch