Alison Levine is the No. 1 ranked player in the world in the BC4 category in boccia, the first woman to ever hold that title.
When she tosses her first ball onto the court at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics Friday, she’ll be aiming to back that ranking up with a gold medal.
The 31-year-old has been racking up accolades and ascending the world rankings at a rapid rate since she first started competing in the sport in 2013.
The highlights of her career so far have been winning silver at the 2015 World Open Championships in both singles and mixed pairs, silver at the 2015 Toronto Parapan American Games for mixed pairs, 4th at the 2018 World Championships in singles, bronze at the 2019 Parapan American Games in pairs, and gold at the 2019 BISFed World Open in Montreal in singles.
That first international title in Montreal in May elevated her to No. 2 in the rankings. She ultimately climbed all the way to the top just five months later.
“It’s been an objective of mine (to be No. 1) for the past year so I’m very happy,” Levine said to Sportcom in October of 2019, three years after finishing fifth in singles at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio. “I was able to show that being No. 1 was not a crazy dream.”
It certainly was not a crazy dream, as the Montreal native has held the top spot in the rankings for nearly two years now with the rankings freezing in March of 2020 due to the pandemic.
While a woman holding the No. 1 title for the first time in history is impressive on its own, Levine also paces herself well above her current peers. The gap of 15 points in the rankings over No. 2-ranked Boris Nicolai of Germany is more than the same gap between second and seventh in the rankings. She is also paving the way for women in the sports, with just 32.4 per cent of the top 142 ranked players in the world being women, along with being one of just two women in the top 10, alongside China’s Ximei Lin.
While the now two-time Paralympian previously competed in wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby and horseback riding, she found her calling in boccia almost immediately, going from picking up the sport to competing provincially in just one month.
“Compared to some others (in the sport), I have a certain body mechanic that I’m able (to throw harder),” Levine said to The Hamilton Spectator in March of 2020. “I’m super flexible so I’m able to get a lot of height on my pendulum swing in order to generate a lot of power.”
The road to gold begins Friday at 8:30 p.m. EST in group play against No. 73-ranked Martin Streharsky of Slovakia.