Marco Dispaltro competing in the 1/8 finals of the individual Boccia BC4 at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Canadian boccia athletes believe their throwing power is key to Rio win

Duo say they're the most powerful team in the Games

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – Marco Dispaltro and Iulian Ciobanu believe the power they produce when throwing gives their boccia group an edge over other countries at the Paralympics.

And, they’re sure they can back up their claim.

“Our team I can say without any hesitation, we’re the most powerful team, but we’re the youngest I think,” said Ciobanu, at the Welcome Centre in the Paralympic Village. “We … have more weapons than other teams. Other teams [have just two strong players].”

“I’ve seen all the other countries and [Canada’s BC4 category group] rival any three anywhere in the world; for sure,” said Dispaltro.

Ciobanu and third member Alison Levine will be making their Paralympic debut, but Dispaltro, who considers himself to be the elder of the trio having competed in previous Games, trusts that the rookies will be able to counteract their inexperience.

“In 2012, I recruited [Levine] from wheelchair rugby,” said Dispaltro, who won bronze in the pairs event during the London Games. “I love to recruit people from wheelchair rugby because they have that attitude, they have that spark; they’ve got that competitive edge.

“Boccia is one of those sports where men and women can compete equally. On tour [Levine] is in the top five for the amount of power she generates.”

Prior to throwing boccia balls, the Paralympic medalist competed for Canada in wheelchair rugby from 1993 until 2004. From 2001 to 2008, he served as the High Performance Coordinator of the Canadian national rugby team, and later became the head coach for Sweden.

Dispaltro describes boccia as being a combination of curling and chess, which he says bodes well for Ciobanu because of his degree in psychology.

Canada’s BC4 group will compete against more than 50 other nations beginning on Sept. 10 with the pairs competition, as well as individual play which commences on Sept. 13.