Yushae DeSilva-Andrade and Omar Hayward off to a flyer at Parapan Am Games
Yushae DeSilva-Andrade and Omar Hayward got their Parapan Am Games campaign off to the perfect start on the opening day of the boccia competition in Santiago, Chile.
Just a day after having the honour of being flag-bearers in the opening ceremony, the pair gave dazzling displays to put themselves firmly in contention to seal progression from their respective BC1 Division pools and into the finals.
Hayward, in particular, is all but guaranteed to move on to the next round after claiming back-to-back victories in pool A of the men’s competition.
In his opening match against local player German Omar Nahuel, the Bermudian raced into a 5-0 lead in the opening end before going on to claim an eventual 7-2 victory.
Building on that win, he also overcame Venezuela’s Jose Gregorio Hererra, taking the first two ends 2-0, before extending his advantage with another unanswered point in the third. Hererra staged a late fightback in the final end, clawing back three points, but it proved no more than a consolation as Hayward prevailed 5-3.
Hayward concludes pool action today against another unbeaten player in Brazil’s Jose Carlos De Oliveira, who followed up an emphatic 9-0 success over Hererra, with an 8-1 victory over Nahuel.
There was also success for compatriot DeSilva-Andrade as she came through a hard-fought opening match against Argentina’s Ailen Del Pilar Flores in pool A of the women’s competition.
The Bermudian raced into a 3-0 lead after the opening end before extending her advantage by a further point in the next end. Flores then hit back with a 1-0 success in the third, but could only add a second point in the final end as DeSilva-Andrade held on for victory.
The 30-year-old will have a one-day break from action before returning to take on Ecuador’s Joselyn Michael Piedra.
“Today’s match was really awesome, we were pretty evenly matched and so I was really happy with how it turned out,” said DeSilva-Andrade, who came into her third Parapan Am Games with high expectations, being ranked sixth in the world after winning a gold and two silver medals in the previous three World Cup competitions.
“I can’t wait for my next match now on Tuesday,” she said.
Troy Farnsworth, the national boccia coach, hailed the opening-day efforts of both players who are aiming to further enhance their chances of qualifying for the Paralympics in Paris next year ahead of the qualification deadline on December 31.
“It was a great day overall for Bermuda with three victories from three,” he said.
“Omar did brilliantly to win both of his matches and Yushae had a very close-fought match which went down to the wire.
“At this stage it looks like Omar should be progressing from his pool and into the finals, which is fantastic for him. He has a tough match left to come, but irrespective of the result, he should progress through.
“There is a lot of action still to come, but it has been a very satisfying first day with three wins and a fantastic start to the competition. Hopefully the momentum can continue for both players and build their confidence going forward.
“The Games are very important for both Yushae and Omar because they hold a lot of Olympic-ranking points. Both of them have gained good points over the qualification period of the last two years and so definitely have a realistic chance of going to Paralympics next year.”
DeSilva-Andrade and Hayward are part of a three-athlete contingent representing Bermuda in Chile alongside wheelchair sprinter Jessica Lewis.
The 30-year-old, who is set to get competition under way in the T53 classification tomorrow, will be aiming to clinch a third successive gold medal in the 100 metres after winning in Toronto in 2015 and Lima in 2019, setting Games records on both occasions.
As well as her favoured 100 metres, Lewis is also scheduled to compete in the combined T53 and T54 400 metres and 800 metres events.