Jalbert wins national silver medal

Paul Jalbert wasn't ranked as a medal threat going into the boccia national championships in Victoria.

As it turned out, those pre-tournament prognosticators were way off.

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It took him a couple games to zero his sights but once Jalbert got rolling there was no stopping the 56-year-old from Prince George, who came back with the silver medal in the B2 class, his best-ever finish in nine years of taking on the best in Canada.

"I didn't expect to even make it through the round-robin," said Jalbert. "When you lose your first two games it's hard to come back. I didn't win the first day but I had two close games and won the third game 7-3, and that created a three-way tie for second in the pool."

In Sunday's playoff round, Jalbert then beat Danik Allard of Quebec, ranked No. 1 in Canada, 4-1 in the semifinal. In the final, Mike Mercer of Newfoundland scored two on his last shot and won 4-2.

"It was a good tournament, I played differently this year than the previous years," Jalbert said. "Everyone was saying I couldn't miss a shot."

The games were webcast, which allowed Jalbert's wife and seven-year-old daughter Audrey and the rest of his family in Prince George to watch.

Jalbert just missed a team medal on the three-member BC 1 team, finishing fourth. He finished second in B.C. at the provincial championship in Victoria. He has one other national medal, a bronze in singles he won in 2015.

Boccia is one of the Canadian Cerebral Palsy Association's showcase sports. Athletes at nationals compete in one of six classifications, based on the level of disability. As a B2, Jalbert is able to stand on his own without the use of devices to help keep his balance.

He's had a few health problems this year and on his doctors' advice he gave up his job of 19 years working on the maintenance crew at CN Centre.

"That was hard but I could see it was coming," he said.

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