Thursday, September 11, 2008

Portugal boccia team cruises to two finals at Paralympics

Boccia powerhouse Portugal is to dominate the medal standing again at the Beijing Paralympics as they clinched two places in the finals of the mixed pairs BC4 and mixed team on Thursday.

It was an coincidence that Portugal met Spain in three semifinals, the mixed team and mixed pairs BC3 and BC4, receiving two wins and one loss in three clashes.

Portugal dominated the medal standing in the Athens Paralympics with two gold medals and four silvers.

Top ranked pairs Portugal and Spain, winning both their matches in Pool A and B, had a hard work in the semifinals of the mixed pairs BC4. Portuguese pair Fernando Perreira and Bruno Valentim, Athens silver medallists, won 4-3 after a tie-break end against the world No. 2 Spanish, Jose Maria Dueso and Maria Desamparados Baixauli.

"Everybody played very well and it was hard to tell who had the obvious advantage, because we were so close. But I guess in the end it was Portugal who were luckier than us," said Spanish Dueso.

The Portugal pair will meet Brazilian Dirceu Pinto and Eliseu Santos in the final on Friday, who upset the Czech Republic 4-1 in the semifinals.

"We have a sure medal and finally we are in the finals. We don't know who will win so we'll try to relax and avoid being nervous," Valentim told the press.

Later in the day, Portugal upset Spain comfortably 8-2 in the mixed team semifinals while China was defeated by Britain 7-3.

In the mixed pairs BC3 category, Portugal confronted with Spain again in the semifinals, but this time Portugal could not continue their good luck in the mixed pairs BC4, suffering an upset loss to Spain 6-4.

Meanwhile, Paralympic title holder South Korea, including individual gold medallist Park Keon-woo, went through to the finals with a big win 15-0 over Thailand.

Spain was defeated by South Korea in the final four years ago in Athens, and they will challenge the old rivals to make a turn over in the finals on Friday.

"Tomorrow's game will be very tight and not easy for us. We will try our best to reach our goal of winning the gold medal," said Spanish player Santiago Pesquera.

Three finals of the mixed team, mixed pairs BC3and BC4 will be held on Friday, the last day of the five-day boccia competition.


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