HOWRAH resident Heath Mollineaux has proven disability is no barrier after claiming two bronze medals at the ParaQuad Tasmania 2019 Boccia State Titles – only a year after he took up the sport.
In his first boccia competition, Mr Mollineaux was able to overcome more experienced opponents from across Tasmania and even from the mainland to win bronze in the individual discipline, as well as the team discipline.
Boccia is a sport that involves athletes with physical disabilities either throwing, kicking or using a ramp to get leather balls as close as possible to a target.
“I had only been playing boccia for about a year, so it was a shock when I won,” Mr Mollineaux said.
“I went up to see what the championships were all about and what I would be up against if I wanted to go further in the sport.”
Mr Mollineaux has quadriplegic athetosis cerebral palsy, which means he has no control over parts of his body and has involuntary muscular movement.
It has also affected his speech muscles, leaving him unable to speak.
However, while Mr Mollineaux is physically dependent on others, he has no intellectual disability and is currently completing his second year of his Bachelor of Business degree at the University of Tasmania.
“I enjoy boccia because it is a sport that I can play and be competitive within my disability limitations, and all the people involved are caring, accepting and understanding of people with a disability,” Mr Mollineaux said.
Mr Mollineaux competed in the BC3 category, which is for athletes who are seated in a wheelchair and roll the ball down a ramp.
“As I am unable to use my arms or legs, I use a head pointer to move the ball off the ramp,” he said.
Mr Mollineaux said he had to train his dad Phil Mollineaux to be his sport assistant for the competition, as his normal sport assistant was in America.
“The sport assistant must sit with their back to the gameplay and they must not speak or ask me questions verbally, so I had to trust dad to read my eye signals properly to set up the ramp and position the ball,” he said.
Phil Mollineaux said he was really proud of his son’s achievements.
“It shows that no matter what your level of disability, if you put your mind to achieving something it’s really possible, as he’s proven here with boccia,” he said.
“It has also helped him gain success and acceptance.”
Mr Mollineaux said he trained every Monday at the Bellerive PCYC and on Thursdays at the Glenorchy YMCA with the support of ParaQuad Association of Tasmania sports development coordinator Kevin Faulkner.
Mr Faulkner said boccia was a sport that was inclusive of all disabilities.
“It’s giving people with disabilities the opportunity to play a sport – whether they want to play socially or in competitions,” he said.
Boccia was included as a Paralympic sport in 1984, and Mr Mollineaux said he aims to continue developing his skills.
“I hope one day to represent Tasmania on the mainland or overseas and perhaps one day represent Australia at the Paralympics,” he said.
“My message to others is to go for it and don’t let your disability stop you from achieving anything.
“I would encourage anyone with a disability to take up the challenge of boccia.”
For more information about boccia, visit www.pdstasmania.org.
Caption: Heath Mollineaux has shown what people with a disability can achieve after claiming two bronze medals at the ParaQuad Tasmania 2019 Boccia State Titles.