Barcelona Recovery Days

As we prepare for three major tournaments in Europe this month, it is critical that we be smart about our rest.  The first international test we will have outside of Canada since the Parapan American Games in Guadalajara will be the Roser Pecanins International Trophy.  We arrived in Barcelona a few days early to acclimatise to our home continent for the next weeks.

After competing in doubles and singles in Spain, we will face our biggest contest of the tour – the Portuguese Master’s Boccia Invitational where we will face 9 of the world’s top BC4 doubles and a world class singles tournament.  Here we will be playing many of our Paralympic opponents in a top notch competition.  Lastly, we finish in Wigan, England with the Cheshire Building Society International Boccia Championships.  The Cheshire is becoming a very prestigious team and doubles only event on the world circuit.  We finished second there last year, and will be hunting for gold there, and across our tour this year.

For now though, we are getting our rest, eating great fresh food and getting back to training.  The Roser Pecanins begins Friday evening and we will be ready.

I don’t normally get to see much on competition trips, but this time we were able to spend some time on the Barcelona trolley and metro systems, take in La Rambla, a beautiful downtown pedestrian street, and the stunning Sagrada Familia cathedral in progress by prolific Spanish architect Gaudi.  It feels great to be a tourist every now and then:

Runner-Up at 2012 Winter Break Boccia Tournament

Josh Vander Vies (CAN) chats with Charles Ray (USA) between ends during their semifinal singles match. Vander Vies won a closely fought victory 6 – 2.

I capped an excellent training session in Florida this week by competing in the inaugural Winter Break Boccia Tournament, February 10th and 11th, 2012.  Held in Lake Worth, FL – just outside West Palm Beach, the event drew some of the top ranked boccia players in the world.

I finished my pool play in first position on Friday February 10th – undefeated with the following scores:

Josh Vander Vies (CAN) (BC4 World #17) vs. Dave Richer (CAN) (BC2 World #54)
WIN 6 – 0

Josh Vander Vies (CAN) (BC4 World #17) vs. Dave Harrison (USA)
WIN 13 – 1

Josh Vander Vies (CAN) (BC4 World #17) vs. Charlie Brown (USA) (BC4 World #63)
WIN 9 – 1

The following day, February 11th, I came out strong with a closely fought victory in the semifinal, eventually to succumb in the final against my Canadian national team teammate.  The final round scores were as follows:

Josh Vander Vies
(CAN) (BC4 World #17) vs. Charles Ray (USA)
WIN 6 – 2

Josh Vander Vies
(CAN) (BC4 World #17) vs. Marco Dispaltro (CAN) (BC4 World #4)
DEF 0 – 8

After a fun and exciting doubles tournament, held between singles matches, I finished a respectable 3rd with USA partner Dave Harrison.  We learned a lot about each other’s style of play and we had a great time competing.

The West Palm Beach area is blossoming into a vibrant high-performance boccia community and I can’t wait to see the great athletes it is sure to produce in the coming years.  After a day off today to recover and get some work done, I finish off my trip tomorrow with one more day of training.  Then after a very brief stop in Vancouver for UBC Law class, I fly out to London, ON for a weekend training camp with Team Ontario, as we prepare for the Canadian Boccia Championships in Surrey this March.

Paralympic selection is on the line at the Canadian Championships, and Canada’s best athletes will be vying for spots on the London 2012 team.  Stay tuned near the end of March, as Canada announces its Paralympic boccia team.

The top 3 singles players at the 2012 Winter Break Boccia Tournament:
1. Marco Dispaltro (CAN)
2. Josh Vander Vies (CAN)
3. Charlie Brown (USA)

What are the Paralympic Games?

Paralympic Fan Bird's Nest

The Paralympic Games are elite sporting events for people with disabilities which run parallel to the Olympic Games, two weeks after the summer and winter events, in the same city and venues. This article provides excellent resources to learn more about the Paralympic movement.

The best place to start is a film produced by the International Paralympic Committee called SPIRIT IN MOTION:

This Wikipedia article has comprehensive information about the Paralympic Games, movement and its history.

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and Canadian Paralympic Committee provide up-to-date information and news on everything Paralympic.

For live and recorded video coverage during international level elite sporting events for people with disabilities visit

2010 Boccia World Rankings

Boccia Balls

The world ranking list for 2010 has been released after the 2010 Boccia World Championships in Lisbon.

Click here for the full 2010 Boccia World Rankings document.

After a solid two tournaments this quadrennial so far, I am currently ranked a respectable 12th individually.

In pairs BC4, Canada remains ranked 10th, even after an excellent 5th place finish in Lisbon. This is because the first competition of the quadrennial – the 2009 Americas Cup, in Montreal – had only one other country, Brasil, entered. Neither Brasil nor Canada earned any ranking points for this competition and will have only two opportunities this quadrennial to qualify for London 2012, instead of the three opportunities afforded to other countries.

We are now in striking distance to be ranked within the top 8 and earn Paralympic qualification, and it will be a dramatic finish in Belfast at the 2011 Boccia World Cup.