Boccia Big win over Mexico ...

Big win over Mexico not enough to propel Team USA into pairs knockout play

By Kristen Gowdy | Dec. 14, 2021, 5 p.m. (ET)

Austin Hanson competes in Sao Paolo. (Photo: Igor Goulart/ANDE)


SAO PÃULO, BRAZIL – Natalie Chastain (Oak Park, Illinois) and Austin Hanson (Topeka, Kansas) put together a dominant performance to round out their 2021 World Boccia Americas Regional Championships performance with a win over Mexico, but finished third in their pool and did not advance to the knockout rounds. 

With teams and pairs competition now concluded in São Paulo, Brazil, Team USA will look to find another way to qualify for the 2022 Boccia World Championships in Rio de Janeiro next year. Americans Marck Harrison (Columbus, Ohio), Michele Lynch (Westmont, Illinois) and Wyatt Struxness (San Antonio, Texas), who teamed up for the team competition, also failed to advance to the medal rounds. 

Team USA will now seek a world championships berth by working to improve their world ranking through a series of world cups and other competitions.

A brand new BC3 pair in a stacked field, Chastain and Hanson hope to build off the 5-1 win over Mexico as they continue to compete on an international stage. 

“We worked really hard and did our best despite some equipment difficulties,” Hanson said. “We will do even better next time.”

Chastain and Hanson opened the pairs portion of the tournament with a 3-7 loss to eventual silver medalist Brazil. Chastain and Hanson put up the best fight against Brazil in pool play – no other team’s margin of defeat was less than seven points. The duo then dropped a contest to Argentina, who would go on to beat Brazil in the championship match, 1-8. 

Finishing their tournament on a high note, Chastain and Hanson blocked some crucial shots from Mexico and scored in clutch moments en route to their first victory as a team.

“Natalie and Austin unfortunately came up short in advancing out of difficult pool of many highly ranked players despite good play throughout the pairs competition,” Team USA head coach Kathy Brinker said. 

Harrison, Lynch, and Struxness, meanwhile, had several close matches in their campaign for the BC1/2 team podium, but couldn’t pull off a win in another highly competitive field. After a tight 5-7 loss to Mexico, the team put up a strong fight against tournament-winner Brazil, who dominated the competition. Team USA put up more points against Brazil in its 4-11 loss than any other team throughout the tournament. It was easily Brazil’s closest game, as they won their other pool play matches by margins of no less than nine, and blew out Argentina in the championship 11-2. 

Harrison, Lynch and Struxness ended their tournament with another close matchup, this time falling to Ecuador 2-5. 

We needed to convert on open jacks and fell short on meeting our goals in this division,” Brinker said.The three athletes showed good communication and a shared mindset despite their losses.

Team USA will return to the States and break for the holidays before heading to Canada in April for the 2022 Montreal World Boccia Cup.

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