Surrey resident Mildred Thomas competes at the 2019 Canadian Boccia Championships, held in Victoria from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1. (photo: Boccia Canada)

Surrey boccia champ is back competing after beating breast cancer

Fleetwood’s Mildred Thomas among winners at 2019 Canadian Boccia Championships

In her very first year of getting serious about boccia, Mildred Thomas is a national champion.

The Surreyite was the Open category winner at the 2019 Canadian Boccia Championships, held in Victoria from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1.

A longtime Fleetwood-area resident, 60, Thomas has competed in several sports over the decades, but is relatively new to boccia.

“I got competitive this year after playing the game recreational,” she said.

“I like the strategy of boccia, and with curling it’s the same idea – I’ve been curling for the last three or four years, in Delta and Langley.

“But boccia isn’t cold,” Thomas added with a laugh. “It’s played in a gymnasium using soft balls, which I throw overhand, unlike some of the others who prefer underhand. I love it, it’s a lot fun, and you meet a lot of people.”

Boccia is a Paralympic sport that can be played by anyone, with or without a disability, according to a post on Boccia Canada’s website (bocciacanada.ca). “Originally designed for people with severe cerebral palsy, it is now enjoyed by players with a wide variety of disabilities. It’s easy for a beginner to pick up quickly, but builds in intensity and complexity as players hone their skills.”

Held annually, the Canadian Boccia Championships involve team, pairs and individual play.

To get there, Thomas won provincial and Western Canada regional competitions.

Born with spina bifida, Thomas has competed in wheelchair sports since she was a girl.

“At age 11 I was into swimming and track and field, in wheelchair sports,” she recalled. “I was the Canadian record holder for the breaststroke, when I was 17 or so – a long time ago now.”

Today, she plays badminton and tennis, too.

“I’ve always loved sports and competition,” Thomas said. “I’m very competitive – I don’t like to lose,” she said, laughing.

Some time ago she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and was forced to take time off from sports.

“I’m eight years clean, and now I’m back into competing, for the past three years,” Thomas said.

In Victoria at Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence (PISE), 40 athletes represented six provinces at the boccia nationals.

“My first experience has been fantastic,” Thomas said in a release from Boccia Canada. “Watching all of the athletes compete with different disabilities has been amazing and a real eye-opener. It took a lot of determination and I tried to stay confident throughout the tournament. It was a little stressful but I just kept plugging along trying to at least place, which I did in the end.”

Thomas was joined in Victoria by her husband, Blair, who helps when she practices boccia at Newton Recreation Centre and Langley’s Douglas Park.

“Nationals is as far as I can go right now,” Thomas explained.

“I’ll be there next year, for sure,” she added.

“I gotta defend my title!”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond

APRIL 3: Air show cancelled, B.C. Ferries reducing sailings

Surrey MLA Jinny Sims cleared of criminal wrongdoing

She resigned her cabinet post during RCMP investigation

Surrey councillors say halt policing transition as 2,000-plus workers laid off

City of Surrey has reportedly laid off 1,900 part-time auxiliary workers and 140 full-time employees because of the pandemic

White Rock announces more COVID-19-related changes to parking

Additional, temporary measures about safety, access: mayor

Boundary Bay Airshow latest Delta event cancelled due to COVID-19

Airshow joins the Delta Triathlon, Tour de Delta and North Delta Family Day on list of cancellations

From inside the ER: B.C. doctor tells it like it is from the frontlines of COVID-19

‘Stay home. It’s working,’ says ER doctor in a Q&A discussion, ‘And please don’t worry.’

Don’t stop going to the doctor, just do it virtually: B.C. association

Doctors encourage patients to access telephone, online visits

BREAKING: COVID-19 case diagnosed at Abbotsford rehabilitation residence

First Abbotsford care home to have confirmed COVID-19 case

Businesses advised to prepare for federal, B.C. COVID-19 assistance

Canada Revenue Agency portal expected to open next week

Dogs are property, not kids, B.C. judge tells former couple

Court decision made on competing lawsuits over Zeus and Aurora — a pit bull and pit bull cross

B.C. senior gives blood for 200th time, has ‘saved’ 600 lives

There was no cutting of cake for Harvey Rempel but he’s challenging youth to start donating blood

Trudeau commits $100M to help food banks amid COVID-19 crisis

Funds will help ‘urgent food needs’ for Canadians awaiting federal emergency benefits to kick in

Captain America joins friendly Abbotsford Spider-Man to take down trash

Local garbage crew bringing smiles to city amid pandemic

Most Read

l -->