RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – When Marcelo dos Santos released his final ball of the game he left Canada stunned and the hometown crowd in a frenzy.
The Brazilian’s ball nestled itself inches from the jack and a sea of yellow jerseys erupted loudly at Carioca Arena 2 as Canada’s BC4 mixed boccia pair of Alison Levine and Marco Dispaltro lost 4-3 to the veteran Brazilian pair of dos Santos and Dirceu Pinto.
“(Brazil) pretty much won on a Hail Mary. (Marcelo dos Santos) didn’t take any time, because usually you have 10 seconds in boccia to prepare your shot, but he just grabbed the ball and chucked it,” Dispaltro said after the match.
“It was (Doug) Flutie to Gerard Phelan all over again – it happens once in a while like that, so kudos to them and plus it’s (dos Santos’s) birthday so good for him because it seemed everything was meant to be.”
After falling behind 2-0 after the first two ends, Dispaltro and Levine clawed back with a huge third end to take the lead 3-2. The pair from Montreal, Que. were primed to upset the third-ranked Brazilians, but they knew you can never count them out.
Dispaltro and Levine are no strangers to tight matches with Brazil as they suffered a heartbreaking loss in overtime in the gold medal game against Pinto and dos Santos’s brother, Eliseu, in the 2015 Parapan Am Games on home soil in Toronto. Even though Canada was not able to return the favour on Brazil’s home court, Canada still has a lot of respect for the Brazilians.
“We definitely have a good relationship with the Brazilians,” Levine said. “There’s certain teams we have difficulties with in terms of sportsmanship, but the Brazilians are always sportsmanlike and they’re just good players and good guys and we like that respect and we know that they respect us as well. It’s always great playing against them.”
Facing off against the host nation in a Paralympic debut can be a daunting task, but Levine took it all in stride. And even though it was tough to lose in dramatic fashion, she took many positives away from the match.
“I like what we did (against Brazil),” the first-time Paralympian said. “Our last two ends were obviously better than our first two and we got some momentum going so I feel like we’re feeling confident about our last two ends and we can bring that into our next game and even though we lost, it was a good loss – we have the upper hand right now.”