The Canadian Cerebral Palsy Sports Association (CCPSA) proudly celebrates the boccia career of Paralympian Josh Vander Vies, a BC4 pairs bronze medalist at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, as he announces his retirement from the sport, closing an 11-year career as a member of the Canadian team.
Vander Vies’ first major international competition was the 2003 World Cup in Christchurch, New Zealand. There, he qualified to the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games and went on to compete at the 2007 and 2011 World Cups and the 2006 and 2010 World Championships. He earned a number of international podium finishes, winning a bronze medal at the 2011 Parapan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, and two silvers and one bronze medal in Americas Cup competition. His international career is undoubtedly highlighted by the gritty bronze medal in pairs from the London 2012 Paralympic Games, won with teammate Marco Dispaltro.
“Josh is a remarkable athlete who consistently met the many challenges and opportunities that presented themselves to him,” said head coach Mario Delisle. “Dedication and discipline as an athlete were always paramount to Josh, even while pursuing his education and starting a family. We will miss Josh’s presence, experience and leadership on the National Team, but also wish him every continued success as he begins a new chapter in his life.”
From 2008 to 2013, Vander Vies served the role of Athlete Representative on CCPSA’s Board of Directors, while being elected to a two-year position of Athlete Representative to the International Boccia Committee in 2006. In addition, he acted as the Athlete Council Representative on the Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) Board of Directors while serving as the chair of CPC’s Athletes’ council from 2008 to 2012. Currently, he is President of AthletesCAN, the association of Canada’s national team athletes, where he has the honour of helping guide the evolution of Canadian sport.
“Paralympic sport and boccia have played such a meaningful role in my life,” Vander Vies said. “It is hard to leave them. But I am very proud of the success of all my Canadian boccia teammates, and especially thrilled to see my BC4 teammates on track after last week’s spectacular come from behind performance in Montreal against world number ones, Brazil, to becoming the dominant international double.”
Globally recognized as a strong proponent of the Paralympic movement, Vander Vies shares a desire to make the elegant game of boccia increasingly known to future athletes and fans. As a professional speaker, Vander Vies uses the platform of sport to begin dialogues surrounding inclusion, accessibility and better understandings of disability and feels very privileged to share his life story with businesses, schools and communities.
“On behalf of the Canadian Paralympic Committee, congratulations to Josh on a hugely successful career both on and off the field of play,” said Gaétan Tardif, President of the Canadian Paralympic Committee. “We couldn’t be prouder of Josh as he moves in to the next chapter of life, knowing he will continue to be a great ambassador for Paralympic sport while contributing his leadership and vision to the Canadian sport system as a whole. Thank you Josh, for all your contributions and we wish you all the best in your future challenges.”
While competing as an athlete, Vander Vies became father to Olivia, who is now nearly two, stepson Karolis and husband to international fencer Dalia Vander Vies. He excelled in his studies, earning an Honours Double Major in Political Science and French from the University of Western Ontario going on to complete the University of British Colombia’s law program.
Although Vander Vies will miss the experiences provided by high level sport and the thrill of competition, he is looking forward to spending more time with his family and beginning his legal career as an articling student.