Boccia gives me superhuman powers…”I have dreams, too”
The first time Min Gyu (18) was introduced to the sport of boccia was in the first grade of elementary school, when his special needs teacher suggested it. He was curious because his teacher had asked him to try it when he was in preschool physical therapy. Born with a brain lesion disorder and confined to school and therapy, his world expanded with the introduction of boccia. “Boccia has given me dreams and hope,” said Shin Min-kyu, who we met at the Icheon Paralympic Village in Gyeonggi-do on the 17th.스포츠토토
Boccia is a specialized game designed for people with cerebral palsy and similar motor dysfunctions, and is similar to curling. It’s played on a 12.5-meter by 6-meter flat, smooth-surfaced field with six blue and red balls each, with one point awarded for the ball thrown closest to the white target at each end. There are four ends for individuals and six ends for teams, and players can throw the balls by hand or use a mouse stick or gutter with the help of a coach. In this case, BC2-ranked Minjong Kyu throws the ball without a partner.
He started playing boccia relatively early. He first competed at the National Sports Day when he was nine years old, and started competing in adult tournaments when he was in fifth grade. His mother, Kim Eun-hee, always accompanies him to competitions. “When you have someone you trust in front of you, you feel at ease,” she says. Kim says, “He’s still young, so he tends to have ups and downs during competitions. When he gets nervous, I press his hands together and hold them down,” Kim said. “Even when he wins a match, I tell him what went wrong right away. That way, they don’t make the same mistakes next time.”
For Min, the appeal of boccia is its unpredictability. “The game is unpredictable. It’s like a ball that doesn’t know where it’s going to bounce,” he said. In curling, the stones (17.24 to 19.96 kilograms) are heavy and difficult to move within the target (house) area, but the boccia ball (275 grams) is light and easy to scatter. Therefore, the game often turns in the second half of the game depending on the strategy and concentration. “Sometimes I feel like I have superhuman abilities,” he laughs.
He first wore the Taeguk mark this year after winning the National Boccia Championships. At first, he had no sense of reality, but after joining the Icheon Athletes’ Village, he felt the pressure and was nervous at the beginning of each competition. It was the same at the Gwangju Mayor’s Cup this year, where I went 1-1 in the qualifiers and made it to the round of 16 as a wild card. It took him about two minutes to release his first ball because he knew he had to make a good showing for the national team. With six balls to be thrown within the four-minute time limit, the later the first ball is released, the more time and pressure she feels in the second half of the match. “I think it was probably psychological pressure,” Kim said. With about two months to go until the Hangzhou Para Asian Games (Oct. 22-28), Kim needs to train to throw the first ball quickly.
“The more you go up a level, the more greedy you become. “I want to work hard and do well, but when I get into the game, I want to do ‘well’ first, not ‘hard’. “My mom is still by my side, even though she has a torn ankle ligament, and I want to show her that I can make it to the Paralympics,” he said. In Hangzhou, he hopes to win two individual and team titles, and to be on the podium at the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. In the future, he hopes to become a youth coach, “because I know what kids like him are going through, and I think I can help them.” All of his dreams came about because of boccia.
Min Min-kyu loves soccer so much that he watches the English Premier League (EPL) on his days off. He mentions his family throughout the interview. He defines family as a “tree”. “My mom is the root of the tree, and the kids are the leaves. My mom’s support has allowed me and my siblings to grow. I want to be the root and help my siblings later.” He’s still only 18 years old. But he is the “eldest” with a heart pocket bigger than his body or mind. His right hand is riddled with calluses, the result of constant throwing of the ball. He doesn’t have enough strength in his hand to write straight, but he can grip a boccia ball. He believes it’s the only thing he can do for his mom, who sacrifices for him, and for his siblings.
As we mentioned at the beginning, Min-Gyu said that playing boccia gave him a dream and hope. “Kids with disabilities move in the same pattern of therapy-school-treatment room-school-treatment room-school, but when I started playing boccia, I broke that pattern. I want people with disabilities or without disabilities to play sports, because there’s a power in it. You feel joy, you feel accomplishment, and you feel like you have a driving force in life. I want people to feel that way.”
Min-kyu’s dream is headed to Hangzhou.