The Rio 2016 boccia test event wrapped up on Saturday (14 November) with widespread praise for the volunteers who helped the athletes over three days of competition. Twenty-two competitors – from Brazil, Great Britain, Russia, Israel and Portugal – took part in the Aquece Rio International Boccia Tournament in Riocentro Pavilion 4 in Barra.
Joaquim Viegas, the technical delegate of the Boccia International Sports Federation (BISFed), was satisfied at the end of the event.
“Even though it was not in the same venue that will host boccia at the Paralympic Games (Carioca Arena 2), we had similar conditions, such as the playing the surface, general structure and ‘look’ of the Games,” Viegas said.
Viegas highlighted the work of the approximately 90 volunteers who worked alongside 68 Rio 2016 staff.
“Volunteers are very important in the Paralympic Games,” he said. “Here we had young people who were very committed to learning, and they grew a lot over the three days, which helped us a lot. Now we have to consolidate this practice, in terms of structure, for the Games.”
“They did everything they could possibly do to help.”
The only elements that could not be tested were the results system and competition schedule software, because some aspects of boccia’s competition format have changed.
“This happens in sport and it is not a problem,” Viegas said. “I will be back in April to oversee this adjustment with the people from Omega and Atos.”
Great Britain coach Chris Wagg, whose group took silver medals in the team event, said attending the event had benefited their preparations for next year.
“It was helpful to experience the plane journey, which is 12 and a half hours, the accessibility for athletes, the food, the work of the volunteers – and they did everything they could possibly do to help the athletes, everything that is important for them. In general, we had a good experience,” Wagg said.
Wagg highlighted a fundamental point in planning for wheelchair athletes: “From our hotel we could see all of the Olympic Park, the Athletes’ Village and the distance between the arenas.”
Brazil’s Maciel Santos finished with two gold medals – one in the team event and one in the BC2 individual event, which he won at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. He said the organisation of the test event was “perfect” and was delighted with his own performance.
“It’s always a great source of pride to represent Brazil on top of the podium,” Santos said. Anotherhost nation gold was won by Hygor Santos in the BC3 class. Assisted by his mother, Egnônia, Hygor Santos said: “On the court I feel happy. Playing, I feel that I have freedom.” One of the sport’s best-known players, Great Britain’s multiple Paralympic Games medallist David Smith, a professional who has played since he was six years old, took the BC1 individual title.
Rio 2016 venue management director Gustavo Nascimento said the competitions were staged “without faults” and the committee had learned a lot from the event, despite it not being in the Games-time venue (Riocentro Pavilion 4 will host badminton during the Olympic Games). He said boccia was a “mature” sport in Brazil and “we need to listen to these people who know all about the sport, because there will always be ways to improve what we do.”
Boccia was the first event in the second wave of Rio 216 test events. Next up is table tennis, also at Riocentro Pavilion 4, on 18-21 November.
Complete results from the boccia test event can be viewed on Rio 2016’s website. The full schedule of the Rio 2016 test events can be viewed on Rio 2016’s website.