Yushae DeSilva-Andrade and Omar Hayward out to fulfil Paralympic aspirations
Yushae DeSilva Andrade and Omar Hayward will be aiming to build on momentum as they attempt to enhance their Paralympic qualification aspirations.
The Bermudian boccia players are preparing to end the year on a high at the Para Pan-Am Games in Chile in November, the final opportunity to gain all-important ranking points towards the Paralympics in Paris next year.
DeSilva Andrade, in particular, will be heading to the competition full of confidence on the back of producing one of the most stunning performances of her career to win gold at the World Boccia Cup in Brazil last month, beating world No 1 and home favourite Andreza Vitória De Oliveira en route to the final.
It was the highlight success of a fruitful year for the 29-year-old, who also claimed silver at both a World Cup event in Montreal, Canada, and on the World Boccia Challenger Series in Santiago, Chile.
Those endeavours have seen DeSilva Andrade climb to sixth in the latest world rankings, further boosting her chances of returning to the Paralympics, having represented the island at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“I’m really excited, but I’m not getting ahead of myself,” said DeSilva Andrade, speaking at a special celebration for her and Hayward hosted at the LiveNet Communications headquarters in Hamilton yesterday.
“This year has been amazing because genuinely I didn’t see it coming. I was just trying to do my best in competitions and I’ve managed to win medals.
“Winning gold was just surreal, but it has given me given me a lot of confidence, especially knowing I’m sixth in the world right now, which is pretty cool.
“There is nothing to fear at the Para Pan-Am Games. My aim is to get back to the Paralympic Games and I’m feeling good about it.”
Troy Farnsworth, the national boccia coach, backed DeSilva Andrade and Hayward, who is eighteenth in the world rankings having clinched silver at the Challenger Series event, to further their chances of reaching the Paralympics.
“The Para Pan-Am Games are very important for both Yushae and Omar because they hold a lot of Olympic-ranking points on offer,” he said.
“Both of them have gained good points over the qualification period of the last two years and so both definitely have a realistic chance of going to Paralympics next year.
“Momentum has been building and so they’ll be heading off to this event and give it their all.
“Having won gold and beat the world No 1 along the way in Brazil, Yushae will have a lot of confidence going into the Para Pan-Am Games knowing she can match anyone.
“Both have been on the podium over the past two years, which has been amazing, so the realistic goal for every competition we go to is to keep getting on the podium.
“When we started out more than ten years ago, we used to have to watch a lot of medal ceremonies with others on the podium and now both are getting on there themselves at events, which is fantastic.
“It is all about consistency now and continuing to work hard on all aspects of their game.”