October 20 - Top players will descend on the Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre tomorrow for the 2013 Asia and Oceania Boccia Championships, one of the qualifying tournaments for Rio 2016.
A total of 67 athletes from nine countries will battle it out for medals across seven categories including the BC1, BC2, BC3 and BC4 singles as well as BC1/BC2, BC3 and BC4 pairs/team events.
This year's Championships represent the biggest gathering of international boccia players in Australia since Sydney 2000 and will feature a number of London 2012 medallists, including Paralympic champions Pattaya Tadtong of Thailand, China's Yan Zhiqiang and Choi Ye Jin of South Korea.
Silver medallists from London, Jeong So Yeong and Jeong Ho Won of South Korea, and China's Zheng Yuansen will also be in Sydney, along with Thailand's BC1/BC2 gold medal winning team and China's silver medal winners in the same category.
As well as South Korea, Thailand, and China, competitors from Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Singapore, New Zealand and hosts Australia will be looking to secure Championship medals and make a positive start on the road to Rio 2016.
The Championships are being hosted by Boccia Australia and the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) and will see 250 matches played over eight courts in the Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre from tomorrow until Saturday (October 26).
Entry to the event is free.
Robert Marshall, President of Boccia Australia, is hoping that the experience of the likes of Lachlan Kavanagh and Fiona Lyons will help some of Australia's up and coming athletes, such as Daniel Michel and Tait Jenkins, get to grips with the tough level of competition that will be on show.
"As a mandatory qualifier for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, this is a great chance for our Australian team to test themselves against the world's best, including reigning Paralympic champions, and play on home soil as their campaign for 2016 heats up," said Marshall.
First introduced at the 1984 Paralympic Games, boccia is designed to test muscle control and accuracy as players throw, kick or use a chute device to propel a leather ball as close as possible to a small white ball, which serves as a jack.
It is open to athletes with a physical impairment that affects both their arms and legs such as cerebral palsy, acquired brain injury, spinal damage or muscular dystrophy.
Ten cameras will catch all the action of the event and the final three days of play will be streamed live along with the chance to access master classes, athlete biographies and interviews in the lead up to and during the event.
For more information and the latest updates from the 2013 Asia and Oceania Boccia Championships and to see online action click here.
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June 2013: Asia Oceania Boccia Championships to be streamed live on internet
February 2013: Sydney to host 2013 Asia Oceania Boccia Championships