2014 Boccia Clinics Posted! Don’t miss out on the opportunity to learn about this exciting Paralympic sport

Posted in Boccia, Featured, News, Programs, Veterans |

33rd Annual Dixie Games Wrap-Up


The 33rd Annual Dixie Games concluded on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 12th with Track and Field at Alfred E. Thompson Stadium located on the beautiful campus of Westminster Schools Atlanta.  The 33rd installment of the Dixie Games marked its return to Atlanta after three highly successful years in Tampa.  Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation and Paralympic Sport Club Tampa Bay set the bar high as hosts over the last three years but BlazeSports and Shepherd Center met the challenge and provided three full days of competition.

Highlights from the 2013 Dixie Games include:

  • Over 200 athletes, coaches, officials and volunteers attended the Dixie Games which offered Paralympic-style competition in, Archery, Table Tennis, Boccia, Weightlifting, Track and Field,  Swimming, and Wheelchair Fencing



  •  One world record was eclipsed in the Long Jump by Josh Kennsion who is a quadrilateral amputee who runs and jumps on prosthetics


  • One America’s record was eclipsed in discus by Atlanta athlete Cassie Mitchell who is also a Shepherd Center Athlete


  • Numerous National Track and Field records were broken including five by our very own Georgia Blazers; Collin Lancaster, Curran Brown, Bryan Powell, James Adams and Ja-Que Billingsley and,



  • Curtis Lovejoy, 5-time Paralympian, Shepherd Center Athlete and Coach, was inducted into the Dixie Wheelchair Athletic Association Hall of Fame


Spirit of Excellence Award Winners:

Archery:  Catalina Bustamante, Mitchell Miles, Jon Moore 

Fencing:  Ellen Geddes, DeJuan Surrell 

Swimming:  Nigel Hambrick, Ashley Bateman, Beecher Bruno, Madison Stanley 

Table Tennis:  Jeff DeLeon, Catalina Bustamante 

Weightlifting:  Michelle Gowland, Johnnie Alexander, Ja-Que Billingsley, Matthew Giardino 

Boccia:  Tim Field 

Field:  Crystal Molina, Dylan Wilson, Centra Mazyck, James Johnson 

Track:  Curran Brown, Cole Wooten, Michelle Taylor Page, Jose Pulido

Spirit of Excellence Award selection is based upon effort, sportsmanship, knowledge of the sport, and being a role model.


You view photos from the 2013 Dixie Games here:

Friday – Archery, Table Tennis, Boccia, Weightlifting
Saturday – Seated Field, Swimming, Wheelchair Fencing
Sunday – Track and Ambulatory Field

Complete results for the 2013 Dixie Games can be downloaded here: 2013 Dixie Games Results.  For more information about the history of the Dixie Games please visit www.DixieGames.org.  

Thank you to all the sponsors, volunteers, athletes, coaches, and officials that made the 2013 Dixie Games a success.

sponsor block

Posted in Archery, Athletics (Track and Field), Boccia, Featured, News, Programs, Swimming, Table Tennis, Veterans, Wheelchair Fencing |

Join BlazeSports at Abilities Expo Atlanta Feb 8-10

BlazeSports will be conducting a wheelchair basketball at 12pm and a boccia session at 1pm on Friday the 8th.  For more information on Abilities Expo click here.

View the event flyer here:  Atlanta 2013 Flyer

Posted in Boccia, News, Programs, Wheelchair Basketball |

BlazeSports Continues to Support Jordanian Partners

This month sees BlazeSports return to the City of Amman, Jordan to continue its multi-partner, USAID funded, sports project for those with physical disabilities. Over a two week period, from November 4th-18th, BlazeSports will deliver coach education practical and theory workshops covering areas of classification, adaptive sports techniques, boccia, athletics, wheelchair basketball, table tennis and soccer. In addition the candidates who attend these aforementioned courses will then have the opportunity to apply their newly acquired knowledge in a variety of hands-on practical settings.

As part of a sports development agreement all of BlazeSports in-country project partners, which include The Jordan National Paralympic Committee and The Jordan Football Association, will deliver sports initiatives and targeted clubs sessions throughout 2013, therefore allowing the level and quality of opportunities for those with physical disabilities to access sport to be increased.

Please find below an outline of the planned program which will take place in Jordan in coming weeks:

November 7th 2012
General Inclusion Training for Disability Sport

November 8th 2012
Athletics (Part 1)
Boccia (Part 1)

November 9th 2012
Athletics (Part 2)
Boccia (Part 2)

November 10th 2012
Wheelchair Basketball
Table Tennis (Part 1)

November 11th 2012
Table Tennis (Part 2)

November 12th 2012
Coaching Disability Football Education Course

November 13th 2012 Organized by JFA
CPISRA Coaches Technical Development Course (Part 1)

November 14th 2012 Organized by JFA
CPISRA Coach Technical Development Course (Part 2)

November 15th
Classification (Football)

Posted in Athletics (Track and Field), Boccia, CDSS, Football 7-a-side, News, Table Tennis, Wheelchair Basketball |

BlazeSports’ National Boccia Team Competes in 2011 ParaPan American Games

Daily Update from the ParaPan American Games

Daily Report

Daily Report – Opening Ceremony

Daily Report – Day 1 of Competition

Daily Report – Nov 14

ParaPan Boccia Quarterfinals Tough Round for Team USA

Three USA players advanced from pool to the Quarterfinals of the 2011 ParaPan American Games Boccia Competition.

T.J. Hawker of Toledo, OH advanced in the BC1 division by beating Deiverson Lenon Campos of Brazil 5-1. T.J., currently ranked 18th in the world, faced Quarterfinal opponent Eduardo Ventura of Mexico,  who is ranked 17th in the world.  What should have been a more evenly match game turned out to be uncharacteristically one-sided. T.J., who normally is able to score points against the best of opponents, was shut out by Ventura in a 7-0 win. Unranked BC1 Teammate Kenny Johnson faced 16thranked Mauricio Ibarbure and had a touch match losing 12-2.

Kenny Johnson taking a closer look at points in the BC1 Quarterfinals.

Austin Hanson beat Angie Aya of Columbia  5-1 to win his fourth round BC3 match against Paul Gauthier of Canada. Austin, currently ranked 18th in the world, was hoping for a win over 27thranked Gauthier. Austin scored a point in two of the four ends, but Gauthier scored a total of 5 points to win 5-2.

Austin Hanson in BC3 Quarterfinal action against Paul Gauthier of Canada.

The USA Boccia Team had a successful ParaPan American Games.  Although, no medals were won, all six athletes competed to high international standards.  BlazeSports America salutes their success.

For information about starting a boccia program in your community, contact Jeff Jones at jjones@blazesports.org.

Team USA Advances Three Athletes into ParaPan Boccia Quarterfinals!

Day 3 of Boccia competition at the 2011 ParaPan American Games  included the final preliminary rounds that determined which players advance to the quarter finals. Three USA players advanced on, while one just missed the opportunity.

T.J. Hawker had a great BC 1 third round match against Deiverson Lenon Campos of Brazil and won 5-1 to be the first Team USA member to advance to the Quarterfinals.  Teammate Kenny Johnson was also attempting to advance in the BC1 division and was matched against Danilo Alvarez of Venezuela.  Kenny lost a close match 4-3, but given his two previous wins, Kenny was the second Team USA  member to earn a spot in the next round.

Kenny Johnson one of two USA BC1 players to advance to Quarterfinals.

Lizzie Flora-Swick was the third BC1 USA player attempting to move on to the quarterfinals. To get to the next round Lizzie had to get past Brock Richardson of Canada.  Lizzie had a slow start and Richardson jumped out to a 4-0 lead after two ends. Lizzie fought back and scored in the two remaining ends, but came up short losing 4-3. At first Team USA coaches were informed that Lizzie did indeed earned a wild card spot to the quarterfinal round.  Team USA staff began getting Lizzie ready for a 3:00 pm match, when Games officials informed Team USA that a mistake was made and that Lizzie’s first international competition was over.  In the sport of boccia, advancement to the championship rounds is not just determined by wins and losses.  The difference in points scored and points given up is called “point differential” and that is the final determination.  In Lizzie’s case her tough 10-1 loss to Eduardo Ventura of Mexico made the difference.  Despite the disappointing news, Team USA coaches are very please with Lizzie’s first experience on the world stage.

Lizzie and her Sports Assistance Dad, Mark Flora-Swick enjoying a great first international experience.

Austin Hanson was the final Team USA member with a chance to move on to the Quarterfinals.  Austin came into round 3 with one win and one loss. Austin had a good match against Angie Aya of Columbia and advanced with a 5-1 win.

Charles Brown concluded his first international competition with a tough 12-0 loss to Eliseu Santos of Brazil, who just happened to be the number one ranked BC4 player in the world and the current World Cup Champion.  Charlie Fleisch finished the 2011 ParaPan Games with a 6-1 loss to Clodoaldo Massardi  of Brazil.

Day 2 of competition at the 2011 ParaPan American Games

Day 2 at the Boccia venue included a number of very competitive matches.  The Boccia venue also had a very special visitor.   Margarita Zavala Calderon, the First Lady of Mexico spent a good portion of the day watching Boccia and encouraging the Mexican players.

First Lady of Mexico attends the Boccia competition.

Charles Brown, coming off a one point loss in round one faced Fabio Moraes of Brazil. Moraes scored well in the first and third ends, while Charlie was only able to score a  single point in the second and fourth end.  Moraes wins 7 to 2.

Charles Brown competes against Moraes of Brazil.

Lizzie Flora-Swick was the only US Team member to have two matches on Day 2. Lizzie carried the excitement of her first international win into a match against Keven Smith-Worthylake of Canada.  Lizzie scored point in the first three ends and held the Canadian to only 2 points in the fourth to win 4-2.  In her second match Lizzie faced Eduardo Ventura of Mexico.  Lizzie hope for her third straight was dashed after a few rookie mistakes.  Ventura took advantage of Lizzie’s mis-cues and won 10-1.

T.J. Hawker  played one of the most technical matches of the day against Jose Chagas of Brazil. The fewest points possible in each end of boccia is one point. T.J.’s match against Chagas had four ends with only one point scored. Unfortunately, T.J. only scored one point and lost a very defensive match 3-1.

Austin Hanson’s second round match was against Maria Rojas of Columbia.  Austin’s offense fell a little short of his first round match and he lost a close game 5-3. In the other USA BC3 match Charlie Fleisch was eager to get in the win column after a tough first round loss. Charlie drew Jair Rojas for the second round. Low scores were the story of the day and this match was no different.  Charlie and Jair each scored points in two of the four ends.  Charlie limited Jair to only 2 points and went on to win his first match of the tournament 4-2.

Kenny Johnson played the last USA match of Day 2. Matched against  Deiverson Lenon Campos of Brazil, Kenny looked to continue his success from Day 1. Kenny scored in three of the four end and  won his second straight match 5-1.

Day 3 of competition will include the final preliminary rounds that will determine which player advance to the quarter finals. Several USA players are well position to move on, if competition goes their way on Day 3.

USA Boccia Has Mixed Results on Day 1 at ParaPans

Opening Ceremonies of the 2011 ParaPan American Games on Saturday, November 12 brought together 1,500 athletes form 24 countries to celebrate the beginning of 10 days of competition in 13 different sports.  The ParaPan American Games were first held twelve years ago and involved 1,000 athletes in only four sports.

Open Ceremonies of the 2011 Parapan American Games was a festive celebration.

The USA Boccia Team just prior to Opening Ceremonies.

BlazeSports America’s USA Boccia Team started competition on Sunday and had mixed results. Team members Kenny Johnson and T.J. Hawker unfortunately end up in the same pool and faced each other in their first round play.  T.J and Kenny finished first and second respectively at the 2011 Nationals, making Saturday’s match a bit of a friendly rivalry.  Kenny had the upper hand on this day and won 7 to 3.

Kenny Johnson and T.J. Hawker battle in first round of the ParaPan competition.

Both T.J. and Kenny had second round matches later in Day 1.  T.J. recovered well from his first round loss and beat Danilo Alvarez of Venezuela 12-1.  Kenny was matched against Carlos Chagas in the second round and could not get his offense rolling, losing 8-1.

The team’s rookie members Lizzie Flora-Swick and Charles Brown had mixed results on Day 1. Lizzie was re-classified from a BC2 to a BC1 and won her first official international game 4-0 against Luitze Yendez of Venezuela.  Her first round win attracted the interest of local fans and she was asked for an autograph after the match.

Lizzie Flora-Swick wins her very first international competition.

A local boccia fan asks Lizzie for an autograph.

Charles Brown had a slow start to his first international match. Rodolfo Villarreal of Mexico scored 4 points in the first and 2 in the second to take a sizeable lead half way through the match.  Charlie broke the ice in the third scoring 1point. Down by 5 Charlie scored 4 points in the last end to fall short 6-5.

In the BC3 competition, Team USA split a pair of first round matches. Veteran player and 2011 National Champion, Austin Hanson,  scored in all four ends to beat Javier Ebergenyl of Mexico 7-0. Teammate Charlie Fleisch had a rough first round match and lost to Martin Dubois of Canada 5-2.

Austin Hanson during an opening round win over Javier Ebergenyl of Mexico.

 Day 2 of competition will have the following match-ups:

Charles Brown vs Fabio Moraes of  Brazil

Lizzie Flora-Swick vs. Keven Smith-Worthylake of Canada

T.J. Hawker vs. Jose Chagas of Brazil

Austin Hanson vs. Maria Rojas of Columbia

Kenny Johnson vs  Deiverson Lenon Campos of Brazil


Boccia Team Salutes Veteran at 2011 ParaPan American Games

Charles Brown, Marine Veteran, named Captain of the 2011 ParaPan Boccia Team.

The BlazeSports America’s ParaPan Boccia Team paid a Veteran’s Day tribute to team member Charles Brown by naming Charlie the Captain of the USA Boccia Team which is competing at the 2011 ParaPan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Charlie is from Loxahatchee, FL and is the first military veteran selected to any U.S. National Boccia Team. Charlie joined the Marines in January of 1985 and experienced a service related spinal cord injury in June of 1986. Charlie is currently a member of the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) national Board of Directors and is the President of the Florida PVA Chapter.  ”It’s been a long time dream of mine to be a part of Team USA, serving my country again as I did once before. Bringing the spirit of competition back into my life is fulfilling. Being here with other athletes, whether they are veterans or not, just seeing their ‘espirit de corp’ as we used to call it in the Marines, and the kindness they have and their team spirit is fulfilling,” commented Charles Brown.

BlazeSports America thanks Charles Brown and all veterans for their service and congratulates Charlie for being named Captain of the 2011 USA Boccia Team.


Team USA arrived in Guadalajara on Wednesday and went through classification and orientation to the ParaPan Village and competition venues.

Charles Fleisch and Austin Hanson Team USA’s two BC3 competitors practicing for the start on competition on Sunday, November 13.

Thursday and Friday were designated practice days and Team USA took full advantage of the scheduled time on the ParaPan competition courts.

Opening Ceremonies are on Saturday, November 12 is and competition begins on Sunday, November 13. Unlike most international Boccia competition, the 20111 ParaPan American Games only includes Individual Boccia competition. There will not be any Pairs and Team competition.

The ParaPan Games is the last major international competition before the 2012 London Paralympic Games.

National Boccia Team Competes in 2011 ParaPan American Games

Click here for Team, Coach and Staff Roster

Wednesday, November 9 was travel day for BlazeSports America’s 2011 ParaPan Boccia Team. Our team of 6 athletes and 8 staff departed from Houston International Airport for Guadalajara, Mexico and the 2011 ParaPan American Games. Thursday and Friday will be arrival days, classification, equipment check and pre-tournament practice. Saturday, November 12 is Opening Ceremonies and competition begins on Sunday, November 13.

The ParaPan Games is the last major international competition before the 2012 London Paralympic Games.  The 2011 ParaPan Boccia Team members are:

BC1 Division

TJ Hawker                             Toledo, OH

Kenny Johnson                    Chicago, IL

BC2 Division

Elizabeth Flora-Swick         Gardner, KS

BC3 Division

Charles Fleisch                   North Massapequa, NY

Austin Hanson                     Topeka, KS

BC4 Division

Charles Brown                     Loxahatchee, FL

The team represents a mixture of Paralympic and international veterans and international first-timers. TJ, Kenny and Austin have collectively attended five different Paralympic Games. This will be Charlie Fleisch’s sixth international completion since 2003.  Charles Brown and Lizzie will be making their international debut.

Elizabeth (Lizzie) Flora-Swick, 2011 BC2 National Champion, practicing for her first international competition.

“Boccia has been on the sport program of the Paralympic Games since 1984. The Paralympic version is based on the game that originated in Italy and has since spread worldwide,” said Carol Mushett Johnson, the Chief Executive Officer for BlazeSports America. “We are very excited to about this team of talent athletes and their chances for medals at the World Cup..”

One of the fastest growing Paralympic sports, boccia is played one-on-one, in pairs or in teams of three and is contested an indoor hard court surface.  The object of the sport is to throw or roll game balls so that they land as close as possible to the target ball called the jack. After all of the balls have been thrown, the closest team receives the number of points equal to the number of balls that they have closer to the jack than their opponent’s closest ball.  The disability sport community initially adopted boccia as a sport for athletes with cerebral palsy but it is now open to all athletes with significant physical disabilities. The sport is a test of concentration, accuracy and strategic ability.

Posted in Blog, Boccia |

Asian Athletes Rock the 2011 Boccia World Cup

The gold medal winning South Korean team, courtesy of University of Ulster News.

On its face, boccia can seem like a straightforward sport. The events at last week’s Boccia World Cup in Northern Ireland, however, showed how mistaken this assumption is. Asian athletes brought a whole new style of play to the tournament and were handsomely rewarded with a serious collection of podium hardware. The BC1 and BC3 divisions were dominated by competitors from Asia, especially by a South Korean team that took home the gold in BC1, swept the BC3, and claimed the overall team gold. David Smith, a member of the British squad and 4th place finisher in BC1, explained the differences in technique to Paralympic.org: “The Asians play a very different style,” he said. “They have a more open and aggressive style, taking the jack much higher up the court.” Portugal and Brazil also had solid showings, taking home several medals apiece in the BC2 and BC4 classes. You can view the complete results on the Sports Ulster website.

BlazeSports is the governing body of USA Boccia, and while the American team failed to claim any medals at this World Cup, we are extremely proud of our squad. The competition in Northern Ireland has only whetted our appetite for some more hardcore boccia action in London next year at the Paralympic Games.

For more info on BlazeSports boccia, check out the boccia section of our site!

Posted in Blog, Boccia |

BlazeSports’ Boccia National Team at 2011 World Cup

The 2011 Boccia World Cup is currently underway in Ireland. Follow BlazeSports America’s Boccia National Team as they compete against 32 other nations.

BlazeSports America’s 2011 Boccia World Cup Team Heads to Ireland

Wednesday, August 17 was travel day for BlazeSports America’s 2011 National Boccia Team. Our team of 9 athletes and 10 staff departed from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport for Belfast Ireland and the 2011 World Cup. Thursday and Friday will be arrival days, classification, equipment check and pre-tournament practice. Saturday, August 20 is Opening Ceremonies and Pairs and Teams begin competition on Sunday, August 21.

The World Cup is the last major international Boccia competition before the 2012 London Paralympic Games and will include 191 athletes from 33 countries.

The 2011 National Boccia Team members are:

BC1 Division

TJ Hawker                 Toledo, OH               Individual and Team Play

Luke Labas              Fort Wayne, IN          Individual and Team Play

Cornelius Oatis       Columbus, OH         Individual and Team Play

Jennifer Jay              Pinellas, FL              Individual and Team Play

BC2 Division

Marck Harrison        Columbus, OH         Individual and Team Play

BC3 Division

Austin Hanson         Topeka, KS               Individual and Pairs Play

Lee Lobmeyer          Topeka, KS               Individual and Pairs Play

Sam Williams          Elmhurst, IL              Individual and Pairs Play

BC4 Division

Patrick Elliot              Peculiar, MO             Individual Play

“Boccia has been on the sport program of the Paralympic Games since 1984. The Paralympic version is based on the game that originated in Italy and has since spread worldwide,” said Carol Mushett Johnson, the Chief Executive Officer for BlazeSports America. “We are very excited to about this team of talent athletes and their chances for medals at the World Cup..”

One of the fastest growing Paralympic sports, boccia is played one-on-one, in pairs or in teams of three and is contested an indoor hard court surface.  The object of the sport is to throw or roll game balls so that they land as close as possible to the target ball called the jack. After all of the balls have been thrown, the closest team receives the number of points equal to the number of balls that they have closer to the jack than their opponent’s closest ball.  The disability sport community initially adopted boccia as a sport for athletes with cerebral palsy but it is now open to all athletes with significant physical disabilities. The sport is a test of concentration, accuracy and strategic ability.

2011 Boccia World Cup:  Team USA Prepares for Competition

Team USA joins 32 other countries in the largest Boccia competition prior to the 2012 London Paralympic Games.

Belfast, Ireland: Team USA joined teams from 33 countries in the Opening Ceremonies of the 2011 Boccia World Cup.  Veteran team member, Lee Lobmeyer, was selected to carry the USA sign during the Parade of Teams, while rookie team member Luke Labas had the honor to be the flag bearer for Team USA.

Luke Labas of Fort Wayne, IN was flag bearer for the Opening Ceremonies.

Lee Lobmeyer of Topeka, KS leads Team USA into the Opening Ceremonies.












With Opening ceremonies over, Team USA began to focus on Sunday’s first round of competition. Team USA combined court time with team strategy meetings to develop a competition plan for the first round of matches.  Team USA (23) begins  pool play with matches against Great Britain (2), Hong Kong (9) and Brazil (12) on Day 1.  Team competition is played with three players per team with two substitute players for a total of five players. Team USA is made of two veteran players TJ Hawker (3-time Paralympian, OH) and Jennifer Jay (2-time Paralympian, FL) and three rookie players, Luke Labas (IN),  Marck Harrison (OH) and Cornelius Oatis (OH).

Team preparations continue off the court in a team strategy session.

Team USA taking full advantage of allotted practice time in preparation for Day 1 of competition.

Team USA’s BC3 Pairs team also has a busy Day 1 of competition. Pairs is played with two players from each team with one substitute.  Team USA’s Pairs Team is made up of three veteran players; Austin Hansen (KS), Lee Lobmeyer (KS) and Sam Williams (IL).  Currently ranked tenth in the world the USA trio is competing for a spot in the 2012 London Paralympic Games.  To get there they need to start by dominating round one of pool play which includes get past Belgium (7), Portugal (2) and Argentina (19).

Team and Pairs play will continue for three days and is followed by individual play. Results will be posted as they come in.

A Father’s Reflections on His Son’s Accomplishments

from Jim Labas,  father of Luke Labas

Thanks again for giving him the honor. He will never forget that, nor will I. Appreciating more each day what this sport does on so many levels.



So today, 3,603 miles from home, a 17 year old athlete carried the flag of his nation onto a floor of competition. He carried it as anyone who has the honor to carry our flag in a foreign land carries it. With pride, honor and a respect for all that it represents. He carried it for everyone back home, especially his Mom, brother and sister back in Indiana cheering him on. His brothers that salute it everyday, everyone that has supported him on this trip and are a big part of making it all possible, his friends and supporters at Turnstone. But mostly he carried it for anyone back home with any form of a disability.

The nine athletes that are here wearing Red, White and Blue represent the best that a core of resilience and determination has to offer. For anyone that faces challenges in everyday life that we with able bodies take for granted. For the extra time it takes just to prepare in the morning to start ones day. For the obstacles in everday life that a world that wasn’t designed for them presents. For dealing with something as simple as a mosquito bite that can’t be scratched, because one cannot will their body to do that simple task, so they just mentally deal with it as they just mentally deal with so many discomforts, aches and pains every single day of their life. But at this time, during this week, in this city in Northern Ireland, they will meet their own. They will meet 200 athletes from 32 other countries that have the same mental tenacity to deal with everyday obstacles and push through the road blocks in their way. They have found a way to compete. An avenue to channel their will to better themselves and push beyond what was their past performance to something even better. They will feel their heart beating through their chest as a key throw is needed at a critical time to score and they will mentally deal with it. They will force their bodies to do more than they are comfortable doing so that they don’t feel they let themselves, their teammates, their coaches and their supporters back home down. How could they? They will focus as any athlete does. They will focus on what they have trained for and practiced. They will push their bodies to excel on a world stage. They will do what everyone with a disability does every single day of their life. Adapt, improve, give it their all and push on. Great Britain, Hong Kong and Brazil are the first on the list. Let the games begin. Proud of you Luke Labas.

Team USA Struggles on Day 1

The 2011 World Cup started with Pairs and Team Play.  Team USA BC3 Pairs team was made of three veteran players, Austin Hanson (KS), Lee Lobmeyer (KS) and Sam Williams (IL).  The USA trio had high hopes of improving their #10 ranking in the world and maybe even qualifying for the 2012 Paralympic Games.

USA Pairs (#10) experienced a very slow offensive start losing their first game to Belgium (#7) by a score of 13 – 1. Their sluggish play continued in the second game against #2 ranked Portugal and it resulted in a 10 – 1 defeat. Third game of the day was against 19th ranked Argentina. As expected the match was much more competitive for our USA Pairs. The wind had been taken out of our Pairs team after their two earlier losses and they just couldn’t pull this one out and lost 4 – 3. With that our Pairs team was done and would not advance out of pool play.

USA Pairs playing 7th ranked Belgium

BC1 & BC2 Team play drew a tough first match against the reigning champions and #2 ranked Great Britain. Although they lost 9 -1, it was an excellent game. With the exception of one end where Team USA  gave up four points, they held GB with excellent blocking allowing only 1 – 2 points per end.

Game 2 paired Team USA against # 9 ranked Hong Kong. Hong Kong dominated winning the match 14 – 1.  Game 3 match Team USA  against # 12 ranked Brazil who hand us our third straight loss 10 – 0.

Team like pairs did not make it out of pool play.

USA Team playing 12th ranked Brazil

Team USA Rolls into Individual Competition

Team USA on a roll in the first day of individual competition with mixed results.

Rookie Team members, Cornelius Oatis and Luke Labas unfortunately drew the same pool and had to go head to head in their first individual match of the tournament.  It turned out to be a very close match, ending in a 2 – 2 tie. In the tie breaker, Luke kissed the jack on his third ball to take the point and eventually the win his first international match, even though it was against his teammate.

Luke Labas gives teammate Cornelius Oatis a quick head rub after their first round match.

Luke’s second match was against Joao Paulo Fernandes of Portugal. Fernandes is ranked #2 in the world after placing second in both the 2010 World Championships and 2009 European Championships. Luke’s international inexperience help him in this match because to Luke Fernandes was just another player. The USA rookie was in the lead in the first end until Portugal kissed the jack with 2 balls to go. Luke set up his block to hold Portugal to 1 point. Coming back in the 2nd end, Luke kissed the jack forcing the Portuguese player to toss all his balls in an effort to score. Luke took the point in second end. Fernandes came back in the third end scoring 2 points followed by Luke scoring a point in end 4. Final score: Luke 2 Portugal 3….an OUTSTANDING MATCH against the #2 ranked player in the world for our young USA player!

Cornelius just off a close loss to his teammate had to face long time international veteran Brock Richardson of Canada who is currently ranked #32 in the world. Similar to Luke’s second match, the USA saw back and forth domination of ends with Canada scoring 1 point in the first end, Cornelius threw long in the second end and scored 1 point, Brock played a short game left in the 3rd end to take the point and finished the 4th end with a very close point for the 3 to 1 win over Cornelius.


Cornelius Oatis congratulates Brock Richardson of Canada on his close win.

Cornelius had two tough matches to finish out his pool play. He lost 7-0 to #2 ranked Joao Paulo Fernandes of Portugal and 2 – 6 to Lukas Balazi (#33) of Slovakia.

Being in the same pool as Cornelius, Luke Labas had to play Brock Richardson (#32) of Canada in his third match of the day. Brock started his boccia career in 2006 and has been a member of the Canadian National team since 2007 and was a member of the Beijing Paralympic Team for Canada. Luke played an excellent game for this being his first international competition. Richardson won a very tight match 3-1.

Team USA BC3 teammates Austin Hanson and Lee Lobmeyer also drew the same pool and had to face off in their first individual match of eth 2011 World Cup. Lee won the toss and chose to throw 1st and 3rd ends from box 3. She placed her jack deep in the back left of the court which provided a great challenge for Austin and resulted in 3 points gained for Lee. In end 2, Austin came back and placed his jack slightly over the V line on his right. He followed up with his blue ball that fell approx. 10″ short of the jack allowing Lee to roll and tighten up the gap. An equipment malfunction caused Lee to run down the clock and she ended up losing the last 3 balls to loss of time. This was a major turn in the game and the opportunity for Austin to score 6 points. In end 3, Lee came back to score 3 points to tie the game 6 – 6. In end 4, Austin busted it open and score 5 point to win the match 11- 6….a well fought battle.

Marck Harrison lost his first match to Pablo Sebastian Gonzales of Argentina 0 – 5. Pablo scored 2 in the first end and Marck held him to 1 point each in end 2, 3, 4 with a very defensive game.

Marck rebounded off his morning loss by winning his afternoon match over local favorite Jason Kearney (#33) of Ireland 3-1 in front of the home crowd!

USA Marck Harrison vs local favorite Jason Kearney of Ireland

In other Team USA first round matches veteran players won 1 of 3 matches:

Tim Hawker (#21ranked) won his BC1 match against Leena Sarela (#40) of Finland 6 – 3

Sam Williams (#58) lost his BC3 match to Keita Kato (#`14) of Japan with a score of 2 – 8

Jen Jay (#47) lost her match 1- 7 against Kam Lung Wong (#20) of Hong Kong


TJ Hawker had an undefeated day of play.

Sam Williams vs Keita Kato of Japan













Team USA rookies drew extremely tough draws against #1 and #2 players in the world:

Marck Harrison lost his BC2 match 2-11 against Zhiqiang Yan (#2) of China

Patrick Elliott was over matched his BC4 game against Pinto Dirceu (#1) of Brasil and lost 13-0 and lost to Domingos Viera 0 – 10 in what is proven to be a very competitive BC4 division.

Later in the day Team USA BC3 results included:

  • Sam Williams (#58) lost  to Sandra Pena (#11) of Spain 1-9
  • Austin Hanson (#17)   lost to  Veronica Pamies (#56) of Spain 1 – 8
  • Lee Lobmeyer (#78)  lost to  Armando Costa (#10) of Portugal 0 -12

Lee Lobmeyer vs Armando Costa of Portugal.

Rounding out the final matches of the day Team USA BC1 players had mixed results:

  • TJ Hawker won his second match of the day against Borris Sever (unranked) of Slovakia, 4 – 0 in a well thought out match
  • Jennifer Jay (#47)  lost to Nunes Neto Antonio (#9) of Brasil 4 – 8
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