Boccia Espoir Team Returns for Second Year
Ottawa, ON (January 31, 2023) – The National Boccia Espoir Team has been announced with new and returning talent making up the squad. Olivier Dussault (Québec City, QC) and Olivier Roy (Québec City, QC) make their return to the team in the BC2 class while Alex Lemaire (Kingsey Falls, QC) in BC3 and Nathan Bragg (Vancouver, BC) in BC2 emerge as new additions.
High-Performance Director, Mario Delisle, is looking forward to working with the Espoir group in 2023 to “prepare these athletes for a possible participation in an international event and support their development through specialized training. They could be asked to replace a national team athlete at any time at an international competition.”
Delisle was one of those who came up with the Espoir Boccia Team idea in 2005 which went through a hiatus from 2010 to 2021. In 2022 the program kickstarted again and continues this year with Simon Larouche nominated as primarily working with this group of athletes along with the other National Team coaches.
The benefits of being on the Espoir team include training sessions with the Boccia Canada high-performance team and the chance to compete internationally. The overall goal is to prepare the athletes to, one day, compete and thrive on the National Team.
Ryan Rondeau (Edmonton, AB) is a perfect example of an athlete who benefitted from the program. In 2022 he was named to the Espoir team and travelled to the Cali World Boccia Challenger where he competed, and won, a silver medal at his first international appearance ever in individual play. He is now the official BC3 male athlete named to the 2023 National Team where he plans on competing in Individual as well as Pairs play on the international circuit.
The youngest athlete in the high-performance program, Roy, is delighted to continue his journey with the Espoir Team, having been nominated in 2022. “What a great opportunity for me to continue my athletic development and improve my boccia skills! I hope to be able to participate in the Paralympic Games one day, but in the meantime, I will have the chance to improve my skills thanks to the advice of my Espoir coach and the rest of the coaching team. I’d like to thank everyone who believed in me and who guided me to reach my full potential up until this point.”
Roy won his first medal at a national open, a silver in BC2 at the 2022 Défi sportif AlterGo competition, and is hungry for more.
Espoir newcomer, Bragg, marked the 2022 Canadian Championships competition in November 2022 with a double win: a silver medal in BC2 individual as well as the recipient of the Gilles Henry Spirit of the Games Award, given to the athlete showing the greatest sportsmanship. This was his first, full Canadian Championships as a boccia player, having competed in other wheelchair sports for many years.
“My performance at Nationals opened my eyes to the fact that I can excel in boccia. It’s a complex sport that involves a lot of technical skills, tactical adjustments, and I’m hoping to improve my skills and knowledge over the coming season. I still have a lot to learn and will need to step up my training to enhance my accuracy and consistency throughout the course of this year.”
Another returning athlete, Dussault, has shown great promise for the future of the sport, having come in fourth place in BC2 at the 2021 Canadian Boccia Championships and the 2022 Boccia Blast, then fifth at the 2022 Canadian Boccia Championships. “This is another step towards making my international competition debut which I’m very excited about. This year, I’m going to increase my training volume and confidence to improve my game. Besides the obvious, I would like to be stronger mentally to perform in key moments of competition.”
The Espoir team is going to be monitored and coached so that they can start reaching more of their potential in 2023 and beyond: “The goal of the Espoir athletes should be to learn, share, and take advantage of the support we provide throughout the year to help them in their development as athletes,” noted Delisle.
Find profiles of each athlete on the Espoir team here.
About Boccia Canada
Boccia Canada is the boccia delivery arm of the Canadian Cerebral Palsy Sports Association (CCPSA), the National Sport Organization for the Paralympic sport of boccia. Boccia Canada is focused on providing athletes and individuals of all ages and skill with the chance to play a unique Paralympic sport. CCPSA collaborates with partners to increase the participation of Canadians with cerebral palsy and related disabilities in sport and physical activity, while leading, developing and growing boccia from grassroots, to producing World and Paralympic Champions.
Boccia is a Paralympic sport of precision and strategy similar to lawn bowling or curling, played by athletes with Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy, and related disabilities. It is one of only two Paralympic sports that do not have an Olympic counterpart. Athletes compete in one of six sport classes based on their level and type of disability: BC1, BC2, BC3, BC4, BC5, and Open. For more information on boccia, visit www.bocciacanada.ca.