Colombian Euclides Grisales failed to qualify for the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. But this shortcoming only reinforced his motivation.
So much so that he became one of the best boccia athletes in the BC4 class.
Whether he missed Rio 2016 and became his country’s first medalist at the 2018 World Boccia Championships, the world number 3 wants to continue this upward trend at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games this summer.
âEver since I started my athletic career, competing in the Paralympic Games has been one of my biggest dreams,â said Grisales. âWhen I started my international participation, I decided to qualify for Rio 2016. I managed to attend some tournaments but it was not enough to fill one of the available slots.
âI remember it was a complicated step for me,â he continued. “But I am sure that this was a fundamental moment in starting my preparation for Tokyo 2020 with more conviction.”
Â© Sporting Wales
Grisales’ journey in para sports was all about being in the right place at the right time.
One afternoon in March 2009, he was on a bus in the city of Cali when a man approached and invited him to play the sport. This man is also the coach of Grisales today.
“Out of curiosity, I accepted his invitation,” Grisales recalls. âA few months later, I participated in my first national tournament where I won a bronze medal and a gold medal. This is how my career began; 12 years later, I am preparing for the Paralympic Games.
Although he did not qualify for Rio 2016, the Colombian led a steady campaign to win his country’s first Paralympic medal in boccia. He won silver at the 2017 regional championships and surprised at the 2018 world championships when he defeated a competitive roster that included the late Dirceu Pinto of Brazil and Germany’s Boris Nicolai to meet China’s Yusansen Zheng in final, but lost.
Competition in the BC4 category remains high. In his last competition – the 2019 Sao Paulo Regionals, he lost to World No. 1 Alison Levine of Canada in the bronze medal match.
It was his last competition before the COVID-19 pandemic put the world on hiatus.
“I remember that the competition was a very important mental challenge for my sporting career because we had many possibilities to qualify by climbing positions in the world boccia rankings, which we managed to achieve,” he said. declared. âPersonally, it was a competition where I identified a few weaknesses that I needed to improve both tactically and in terms of sports implementation, and as always I enjoyed the tournament until the last day.â
He adapted to the challenges of competitions without boccia in over a year and spent his time working on tactics. While his Paralympic debut has been delayed, he remains grateful to the stranger who invited him to a new outlook on life.
âBoccia has given my life a 180 degree turn,â he said. âBefore knowing this sport, I was a person who did not have clear personal or professional goals, nor did I think of representing my country or knowing other cultures far from Colombia. All this I owe to this exciting sport which has helped me to have a broader vision of life and which, accompanied by small goals, has made me a person with dreams, goals and above all with a full path. self-improvement.