The Road to Rio
By Alison Levine, Paralympian and Abilities Expo Ambassador
My name is Alison Levine, I was born and raised in Montreal, Canada, and am 26 years old. I am an athlete in the sport of boccia. Boccia is a Paralympic sport of precision, concentration and muscle control. I play in the BC4 category which is for athletes with severe disabilities affecting the whole body, other than cerebral palsy. In my case, I have an idiopathic neuromuscular disorder that causes weakness in all my muscles.
Alison’s Whirlwind Journey to the Paralympic Games
I was born what appeared to be perfectly healthy and started exhibiting noticeable symptoms around the age of twelve. I have played many adapted sports in the past from wheelchair basketball, sledge hockey and wheelchair rugby, but now concentrate on boccia as it is physically the only sport suited for my level of disability.
Three years ago I was at a wheelchair rugby tournament when my mentor, Marco Dispaltro, came seeking new boccia players. I threw a few balls and fell in love with the sport. Within a year, I was on the national team and haven't looked back since. In one week, I will embark on my biggest journey to date; I'm off to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil to compete at the Paralympic Games.
With such a short time until the greatest competition of my life begins, in order to not get swept up in the excitement and stress of the Paralympics, I find myself needing to reflect on what led up to this moment. Boccia at the Paralympics is actually a small competition in terms of number of athletes. Only the best of the best compete. Qualifying for the Paralympics in boccia is a tremendous achievement on its own. How, in less than four years, have I achieved a goal that normally takes athletes decades to obtain? I don't believe I possess a single key to success but rather a full jingling keychain. For the sake of brevity (and to not give away all my super secrets...), I have chosen to reveal my simplest, yet most important key—my life philosophy.
Athlete’s Outlook on Life Fuels Her Success
My philosophy is to love life. No matter what life throws at me, no matter how difficult it gets, I never stop seeing the beauty in the world. I never stop having fun, never stop laughing, and never stop believing that the world is amazing. I apply this philosophy easily to boccia. It's very hard to get stressed out when you are truly loving what you are doing. When things get tough, I remind myself why I started boccia in the first place; because it was fun. It puts everything into perspective and allows me to carry on.
I have immensely enjoyed my road to Rio and I know that thanks to my handy keychain full of keys, I am ready to represent Canada on the biggest international stage. I have worked hard and earned the right to call myself a Paralympian so I know that no matter what my result in Rio will be, I have done my best, and that's something to be proud of.
About the Author:
Born and raised in Montreal, Canada, Alison Levine is a proud Paralympian and member of the Canadian National Boccia Team. A veteran adaptive sports player, she found her true calling in boccia and “hasn’t looked back since.” Join us in wishing her Paralympic success in Rio and find out more about Alison at http://alisonlevine.ca/.
As the ambassador to the new Abilities Expo Toronto, Alison hopes to welcome her fellow Canadians to the event on January 20-22, 2017 at the International Centre. Admission is free, so register today.
Register for Abilities Expo Toronto, Jan. 20-22 at International Centre. Admission is fee.Pre-Register for Abilities Expo Today...It's Free!