Until 2017 Daniel Michel had flown under the radar in boccia. But after this season, the 22-year-old proved he is a major player in the sport.
In the space of just 16 days, the Australian won double gold at the Kansas City World Open in the USA before flying to the other side of the world to triumph at the Bangkok World Open in Thailand. Michel’s outstanding performance enters as No. 33 on the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) Top 50 Moments of 2017.
For Michel, winning three golds and a bronze at two difference competitions in such a short space of time is a turning point in his boccia career.
“This has been an historic year for myself and Australian Boccia as a whole,” Michel said. “Being able to break through those challenges I had been experiencing and get on the podium not once but twice was exceptionally rewarding. I think this year marks a turning point in my career where I have been able to develop myself to an elite level and feel as though I have arrived on the world stage.”
On 24 September his winning run began when he teamed up with Spencer Cotie to win the pairs event in Kansas. Four days later he defeated Great Britain’s Jamie McCowan, the top seed in his pool, in the individual BC3 event to claim his second gold of the tournament.
He then flew straight to Thailand, where the Bangkok World Open began just two days after his Kansas win. After picking up bronze in the pairs BC3 alongside Calandre Simpson on 5 October he rounded off a remarkable 16 days with victory in the Michel again overcame tough competition to take the individual gold.
“Winning back-to-back events in Kansas City and Bangkok was a special moment for me,” Michel said. “It really was a testament to the work my team and I have put in to overcome the adversity we have faced over the last few years and find a way to win. Achieving this type of success in back-to-back events against extremely talented pools of players makes me very proud of my efforts and those of my team and it will go down as the best moment of my career thus far.”
The 22-year-old made his Paralympic debut at Rio 2016, where he faced tough competition in the individual BC3 event. He could not get past Greece’s eventual silver medallist Greg Polychronidis in the pool stage. But that Paralympic experience would go a long way for Michel as he has learned along the way.
“The key to these victories was all in preparation,” Michel said. “I have always believed strongly in my ability to compete at the highest level and have felt it was just a matter of finding the right tools to allow myself to demonstrate that ability. A few changes in my equipment in the months leading up made all the difference. An unwavering commitment to find a way to make myself the best I can be was the catalyst for these changes.”
The full rundown of the Top 50 Moments will continue until 31 December.