By Emily Goddard

Pachi the porcupine paid a visit to the Canadian Boccia Championships ©Canadian Cerebral Palsy Sports Association/FacebookThe Canadian Boccia Championships have got underway with a gold medal for Gio Desero at the Abilities Centre in Whitby, Ontario.

The first day of the competition, which acts as a test event for the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games, featured provincial team and pair play, as well as open competition, while the field included the likes of five-time Paralympian Paul Gauthier and newcomers like Hayley Redmond of Team Newfoundland, who placed fourth in the team BC1/BC2.

"[It was] an awesome day for the team, it was certainly our closest year," Redmond said.

"We are starting to score and make shots; that makes us very excited.

"As a small, young group of athletes, and this being our third year at nationals, this is a huge accomplishment.

"Looking forward to some tight individual matches tomorrow and hoping to pull out a win."

The team BC1/BC2 saw Ontario claim victory, ahead of British Colombia and Québec respectively.

Gio Desero (front row, centre) claimed the gold medal in the open competition ©Canadian Cerebral Palsy Sports Association/FacebookGio Desero (front row, centre) claimed the gold medal in the open competition ©Canadian Cerebral Palsy Sports Association/Facebook

The pair BC3 victory went to Québec, with Nova Scotia and Ontario in second and third place, while Québec secured another win in the pair BC4, ahead of a mixed team.

Desero's gold medal came in the open competition as he finished first in a double round robin tournament.

He finished ahead of Gordon Letke, Paul Rehel and Julie Merrigan.

The competition, which is being attended by Boccia Canada Council's Gary Vander Vies, Canadian Cerebral Palsy Sports Association executive director Marie Dannhaeuser, Toronto 2015 sport manager Randy Anderson and Pan and Parapan American Games mascot Pachi the porcupine, will continue tomorrow with the individual play.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
October 2014: Toronto 2015 donating specialised sports equipment to encourage Para-sport participation