“This is a great opportunity to punch your ticket to get to Rio; to be cognisant in every game. It would be great to get Canada on the podium.”
Canada’s Marco Dispaltro does not doubt his team’s success when the 2015 Boccia Americas Team and Pairs Championships arrive to his home nation on Wednesday (29 April).
But Dispaltro, who is ranked No. 1 in the world in the BC4 category, is not underestimating his opponents who will commence to Montreal, Canada for the competition.
“I’m very confident that we will do well everywhere,” he said, “Although Brazil is still a formidable team.”
“Venezuela could be dangerous, as they have great physical potential. Then there’s Argentina; they could be very good.”
Dispaltro believes his background as an athlete and coach will help Team Canada reach the podium. He played wheelchair tennis and wheelchair rugby, and even coached the Swedish rugby team in 2008. But the 47-year-old’s experience on the administrative side of sport – having served as the high performance co-ordinator of the Canadian national rugby team – also provides an advantage.
“In boccia, most people have all the same tools, essentially,” Dispaltro said. “Really, what it comes down to is the mental game; that can be the difference.
“We could do with being a bit more consistent. We have a tendency to be overly aggressive, perhaps, as we are very physically powerful.”
With teammates who know just how to keep calm under pressure, Dispaltro hopes that getting Team Canada on to the podium during this competition, as well as future events, will carry over into the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
“This is a great opportunity to punch your ticket to get to Rio; to be cognisant in every game. It would be great to get Canada on the podium,” he said.
But he does not just want a podium finish.
Dispaltro knows too well that missing out on the top spot can be heartbreaking. He found out when he and his teammate, Josh Vander Vies, were narrowly beaten by Radek Prochazka and Leos Lacina of the Czech Republic at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
He recalled feeling of winning a bronze medal in the BC4 pairs event at the Games.
“It was difficult,” he said. “But then you realise that you have a medal, and there aren’t too many of those given out.”
But ultimately, if his team can keep a consistently good form, from competition to competition, Dispaltro is confident in Team Canada’s abilities.
“I think we have a great shot at winning them all,” he said about the upcoming competition. But as for revealing Canada’s winning tactics, that’s one thing he is remaining tight-lipped about.
“What; you think I’d tell you?”
The Americas Team and Pairs Championships conclude on 4 May.