Michele Lynch poses with a boccia ball. (Photo: U.S. Paralympics Boccia)
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Following a successful national championship event in Kansas, U.S. Paralympics Boccia today announced the seven athletes and two ramp operators who will compete at the World Boccia Americas Regional Championships in Såo Paulo, Brazil. The U.S. roster includes many of the sport’s top American athletes as Team USA looks for success in an event that could provide a qualification route to future world championships and Paralympic Games.
“We are excited to nominate these athletes to represent our country in Såo Paulo,” said Julie Dussliere, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee’s chief of Paralympic sport. “The beginning of this Paralympic quad signifies a turning point for boccia in the U.S., and these athletes are on the forefront of what will hopefully launch American boccia athletes forward and culminate in qualifying for Paris 2024. Såo Paulo is our first major international competition in this process.”
Headlining the team is Henry Sawyer (Callahan, Florida), a BC4-classified athlete who is currently ranked 49th in the world. Sawyer took first place at the 2021 USA Boccia National Championships last week. He will be joined in the BC4 category by Nick Taylor (Wichita, Kansas), a four-time Paralympian in wheelchair tennis who is now looking to repeat his Paralympic success in boccia.
Michele Lynch (Westmont, Illinois), who is currently ranked 86th in the world, and Marck Harrison (Columbus, Ohio) will each compete in the BC2 category for Team USA, while Wyatt Struxness (San Antonio, Texas) will serve as the sole athlete in the BC1 classification. Lynch has previous regional championships experience having competed in Montreal at the 2017 event and took first place at the 2021 USA Boccia National Championships.
Rounding out the roster are two BC3 pairs: athletes Natalie Chastain (Oak Park, Illinois) and Austin Hanson (Topeka, Kansas) and their ramp operators Sabrina Hemingway (Chicago, Illinois) and Julia Dykes (Topeka, Kansas). Chastain competed in the 2018 Buenos Aires Boccia Regional Open and Hanson a three-time Paralympian and gold medalist at the 2021 USA Boccia National Championships.
The World Boccia Americas Regional Championships are set to run from December 6-14, 2021 in Såo Paulo, Brazil.
For media requests and inquiries, please contact Kristen Gowdy at Kristen.Gowdy@usopc.org.