Boccia, a game that started in Italy, has been a part of the Paralympic Games since 1984. It tests the athlete's coordination, accuracy, concentration and ability to strategize.
It was originally presented as a sport for athletes with cerebral palsy but is now open to male and female athletes with severe locomotor disabilities of a cerebral or non-cerebral origin, including individuals with CP, stroke, traumatic brain injury, high-level spinal cord injuries, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's Disease) and arthrogryposis.Boccia is played indoors on a flat, smooth surface by individuals, pairs or teams of three. Athletes throw, kick or use an assistive device to propel leather balls as close as possible to a white target ball (the jack). There are six red balls and six blue balls.
In an individual match, which has four ends, each player throws six balls. Throwers with CP play in teams of three, each getting two of the balls, to play six ends. Pairs play four ends and each team member gets three balls. Pair games are played by athletes with disabilities of non-cerebral origin who can throw and by athletes who use a ramp as an assistive device to propel the ball.
The United States looks to compete in boccia at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Austin Hanson (Topeka, Kansas) represented Team USA at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, with London marking his fourth Paralympic Games. The boccia competition was Sept. 2-8, 2012, at the ExCel London convention center.
The U.S. Paralympic Boccia Team and the day-to-day operations of the high performance program are overseen by BlazeSports of America, the High Performance Management Organization for boccia in the United States. Click here for the USA Boccia website.
For more information about boccia, visit BlazeSports.org/USA-Boccia.