Former McLennan resident Ryan Rondeau has worked tirelessly to earn his spot on the World Boccia stage.
And it has paid off handsomely!
Rondeau recently competed in Santiago, Chile at a test event for the Parapan-American games, and impressively managed to earn a bronze medal in the pair’s competition. He and his partner, Marylou Martineau, also learned at the games they had earned a spot at the 2023 Parapan-American games, also to be hosted in Santiago from Nov. 17-25.
“We got word while at the tournament that we were selected for both singles and pairs,” says Rondeau.
“It was a really great experience and we’re really looking forward to November.”
Rondeau explains that he competes in the BC3 portion of the para-Boccia games, which he explains is the sector for individuals who are unable to throw the ball over three metres. He says people who play in the BC3 sector use a ramp to strategically drop the ball where they want it.
The International Paralympic Committee website explains BC3 Boccia athletes as people who have significant limitations in arm and leg functions, and poor or no trunk control. They are unable to consistently grasp or release the ball and are unable to propel the ball consistently into the field of play and are allowed to use a ramp with the help of a sport assistant.
Rondeau says he’s been fortunate, as his sister, Sam Leger, has been able to travel to many different events with him to support him in the role of his sport assistant.
“We will be going to Port Eliza, Brazil in September and will play individually,” he says.
“Then we will go to Nationals at the end of October. This all leads up to the Parapan-Am Games in November,” he adds.
Rondeau was in a major accident, where he hit a moose travelling home from work one evening. The accident left him paralyzed, but Rondeau impressively wanted to fight to be able to compete once again in sports.
“When I first got hurt and knew I’d be paralyzed pretty bad, I thought about sports that I may be able to still play,” says Rondeau, explaining that he was always very active in a variety of sports.
“When we found out my arms weren’t good enough to play a lot of the sports, I’d hoped I’d be able to, a friend introduced me to Boccia. I tried it out and fell in love with it.”
His friends and family are behind him in all his efforts, recently holding the Second Annual Ryan Rondeau Boccia Fundraiser Golf Tournament at the Smoky River Regional Golf Course in McLennan. The tournament helps to raise funds for Rondeau to pay for his travel expenses as he travels around the world competing in Boccia tournaments.
“The money helps to pay for any of my equipment and travelling expenses for my sport,” says Rondeau.
“It pays for things like the balls, my racket, and hotel expenses.”
Rondeau says he realizes the 2024 Olympics may be a little bit of a stretch, but he’s targeting competing at the 2028 Olympics. He says achieving this dream requires a lot of community support and a ton of practice, part of the reason his family hosts the annual tournament in his hometown of McLennan.
“McLennan is where I grew up and where my family is, we’ve always been heavily involved with the golf course,” he says, adding his father and sister are both on the board of directors.
“Whenever I compete, I always have the support of my community back home and I want them to be able to be a part of it and celebrate successes with me.”
This year, the event managed to raise over $6,500, which will go a long way in helping with Rondeau’s travelling expenses as he plays Boccia around the world.
Rondeau says he puts in four hours each day of practice, then must see massage therapists and sports psychologists to help him progress in his sport.
“It’s been a whirlwind couple of years,” he says. “I started in 2019 competitively, but then we had two years of COVID. Now we’re back to being able to compete again.”
Rondeau had his first international experience at the Cali 2022 World Boccia Challenger, an experience that has left him with the desire to work harder and achieve even more success in his sport.
By Emily Plihal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Jul 12, 2023