Cote St. Luc’s Alison Levine along with Montreal’s Iulian Ciobanu, BC4 athletes, has qualified for the boccia competition at the Tokyo Paralympic Games in 2021 competing in the pairs event. That duo is joined by Marco Dispaltro from St. Jérôme and BC2 athlete Danik Allard of Bois-des-Filion to qualify for the Games.
The boccia qualification process for Tokyo was not impacted by COVID-19, as the qualification period closed December 2019. Levine and Ciobanu secured their Tokyo qualification while capturing gold at the Povoa World Open in Portugal last October. Currently, the BC4 Pair are ranked number four in the world and, in individual play, Levine sits atop the world ranking. Levine is the first female to ever hold the number one position in this category in the history of the sport. She looks forward to representing Canada in the individual category as well as team. It will be her second Paralympic Games: “For me there is a big difference in qualifying for Tokyo versus when I qualified for Rio In 2016,” Alison Levine said. “ I was still pretty new to the sport. My growth as an athlete in the last four years has been exponential.”
It was announced that Allard also secured a BC2 qualification slot for the Paralympics, thanks to an impressive rookie year on the international circuit. The qualification is reserved for the highest world-ranked BC2 individual players from a country not represented in the top ten ranking in team play.
Allard was new to the National Boccia Training Squad in 2019 and at 19 years old is the youngest member of the team. He burst onto the international scene at the 2019 Montréal World Open, where he finished fourth and vaulted to a top-40 world ranking. He later claimed individual bronze at the Sao Paulo America Regional Championships. That event featured the most heavily weighted ranking points potential. Allard’s performance allowed him to finish the year ranked fourteenth in the world. Allard calls the news a “dream come true.” Competing at the Paralympics has been a dream of his since discovering the sport at age 10. He sets his sights on Tokyo and “can’t wait to resume training” once the boccia National Training Centre at INS Montreal is re-opened.
The qualified athletes won’t officially be selected for the Canadian Paralympic Team until slot allocations are confirmed and announced by the Canadian Paralympic Committee before the Paralympics next year.