My name is Daniel Michel, I am 21 years old and am an Australian Paralympic Boccia athlete. I recently returned from my first Paralympic games in Rio, where I became the first Australian Boccia player to compete at the Paralympic games since Sydney 2000. Boccia is a precision target ball sport similar to bowls and bocce and is played by athletes with varying degrees of physical disability. It is a sport that caters for the most severely physically disabled para-athletes in the Paralympic movement and is one of only two Paralympic sports that have no Olympic counterpart.
My journey with Boccia began in 2011 when I was introduced to the sport by coaches from Boccia New South Wales at a “come-and-try” day. Prior to discovering Boccia, I had never been able to take part in sport due to my severe physical impairment caused by my condition, Spinal Muscular Atrophy, which I have had since birth. This condition affects almost every muscle in my body and renders me with very little strength and mobility in my limbs and torso. Despite my disability, I have always had a keen passion and love for sport, and Boccia provided me with an outlet to express that.
I began competing internationally for Australia in 2013 when I debuted in the Asia and Oceania regional championships. Over the next three years, I would compete in a total of 10 international competitions, through which I would earn a world ranking of 15 and, consequently, a qualification slot for the Rio Paralympics. Competing at the Paralympics has been a lifelong goal of mine, and it was also a huge milestone for the sport as Australia had not had a Paralympic competitor for 16 years. The value of having Australian Boccia at the Paralympics again cannot be overstated as it demonstrates the abilities the most physically impaired members of our community have to be successful through sport, which is a concept that is not recognised by many members of society. I was exceptionally proud to have the opportunity to express the power of Boccia via the Paralympic platform.
As my focus now shift towards Tokyo 2020, the looming financial demand for the next four years is overwhelming to think about. Whilst qualifying for Rio will allow me to access greater funding from the government, it will not nearly be enough to fund the next phase of my journey. I will need to compete in at least four international competitions each year and will be endeavoring to train around 30 hours per week to ensure I am in the best condition to compete for a medal in Tokyo. Athletes from any sport rely on sponsorship to help them achieve their performance goals and I am seeking this generosity to allow me to compete for Australia at the pinnacle of my sport. A generous donation of $10,000 each year would put me in good stead to succeed in Tokyo. I am more than willing to work for this contribution. I have made numerous media appearances on TV, radio and newspaper and am very capable of marketing to a wide audience.