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Paralympic Sports: Boccia

No. 50 Brazil beat Canada in OT at Toronto 2015 boccia finals

The top teams in the Americas went into overtime at the BC4 pairs finals in the Parapan American Games. 12 Nov 2015
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Group of people in wheelchairs celebrating

No. 50: The top teams in the Americas went into overtime at the BC4 pairs finals in the Parapan American Games.

ⒸDefi Sportif Altergo
By IPC

“When those guys stick around and their confidence grows in OT [overtime], one shot will make a huge difference… And they made those key shots.”

Despite the lead, Marco Dispaltro still felt uncomfortable during the BC4 pairs finals in the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games. The Canadian knew they needed more to pull one of the biggest upsets of the year in boccia.

But their Brazilian opponents – comprised of Eliseu dos Santos and Dirceu Pinto – came back to win the gold medal in overtime during the August event, making this one of the Top 50 Moments of 2015 at No.50.

“The Brazilians, they always find a way to hang around,” Dispaltro said. “We had a couple of chances in the end to make a statement, put two or three points ahead of them.

“When those guys stick around and their confidence grows in OT [overtime], one shot will make a huge difference… And they made those key shots.”

A victory would have improved Canada’s standing in the world rankings in the BC4 category. While Hong Kong, China, and China sit comfortably at No. 1 and 2, respectively, six points separate the No. 3 and No. 6 teams.

Brazil currently owns the No. 3 spot, and the London 2012 gold medal pair proved on 8 August that they still have what it takes to defend their Paralympic title come Rio 2016.

“We knew it would not be an easy game and that it would come down to details,” Pinto said.

Brazil lost the first two games but came back to even the scores and force a tiebreak. The Canadians kept Brazil from scoring, so Pinto and Santos decided to change their strategy and wait a little more for a mistake from Canada.

Brazil only had three balls left to win the game. That was when Santos made probably the play of the year and put Brazil’s ball closer to the white ball, given them the gold.

“It was really important to us to beat the Canadian team and bring the gold medal to Brazil because it was a medal I did not have in my career,” Pinto said. “We knew we could win because our desire to bring gold to Brazil was so huge.”

Pinto and Santos paired up for gold in London 2012 and also won individual medals – Pinto with the gold and Santos with the bronze. Having played together for so long, they know each other’s games well.

Dispaltro, who is ranked No. 2 individually, is without London 2012 partner Josh Vandervies, who retired this year. The pair won bronze in London, and Dispaltro is working with a new teammate Alison Levine, whom Dispaltro said is still new to the sport but sees plenty of potential after each experience she gets.

He believes Toronto 2015 was a big step for Levine as they push for another rematch with the Brazilians at the Paralympic Games.

“Right now we need to work on consistency,” Dispaltro said. “I mean with the Brazilians one of their strengths is if one of the player is down, the other is going to get to that next level.”

But not only was this a good experience for Levine, Toronto 2015 was also an opportunity to put the sport on the map. Dispaltro had the honour of being the flag bearer during the Opening Ceremony, and the nail-biting finals match only brought more awareness to sport in Canada.

“Being the flag bearer and having the boccia team right behind me front row centre, I think that really put boccia on the map here in Canada,” Dispaltro said.

Both Canada and Brazil earned Rio 2016 qualification slots for their countries in the BC4 pairs category. As the host nation of the Paralympic Games, Brazil secured an automatic slot. Canada confirmed their slot from their gold in the 2015 Americas Team and Pairs Championships, where they defeated Brazil for gold.

“They were a good team, but that wasn’t their A-team,” Dispaltro noted. “I can’t wait to be the Paralympics and hopefully get another crack at Eliseu and Dirceu.”

For now, the two pairs will carry over a memorable moment from 2015 that builds anticipation ahead of Rio 2016.

“That was one of the most emotional matches I have been in, no doubt about it,” Pinto said.

To find out more about the IPC’s Top 50 Moments of 2015, visit the dedicated page on the IPC’s website.