The first thing you notice upon meeting Dylan Schwarz is his cheeky smile. The second thing is that behind that smile lies a steely focus and desire to succeed at the sport he loves, boccia.
This attitude is already paying dividends; at just 19, Schwarz is the reigning Australian BC1 National Champion and is well on track to achieving his dream of being a Paralympian.
“I want to prove to everyone that they can do anything if they put their mind and heart to it,” Schwarz said.
Boccia is exclusively played by athletes with a significant physical impairment affecting all four limbs. It’s only by watching athletes like Schwarz and Paralympic gold medallist Daniel Michel compete that you get a true sense of the technical expertise and mental fortitude needed to compete at the highest levels.
Schwarz is not afraid to put in the work. When wrapping up a recent three-day training camp at the Australian Institute of Sport, Schwarz told his coach that he’s still 10,000 throws away from being where he wants to be.
The obviously close relationship between Schwarz and coach Peter King sums up the culture within the Australian Boccia squad – it’s a place that lives and breathes the Australian high performance sport system’s vision of Win Well.
Win Well, a central part of the vision of Australia’s High Performance 2032+ Sport Strategy, is the idea that how we win is just as important as when we win and that ambitious performance goals must be balanced with a culture that promotes integrity, fair play, and the emotion, physical and mental wellbeing of all in sport.
“One of the central parts of our coaching philosophy at Boccia Australia is about friendships and team support,” said King. “The athletes will make friends for life here.”
The friendships with his fellow athletes, coaches and support staff have been lifechanging for Schwarz, who didn’t know there was a sport for him until he found boccia.
“I've been playing boccia for a few years now. I gave it a go and I fell in love with it,” Schwarz said.
“Throughout my schooling, I never really made friends. And now with boccia, I’ve made friends.”
While Paris 2024 is not out of question, Schwarz is part of the Boccia Australia Pathway Program targeting both Los Angeles 2028 and home Brisbane 2032 Paralympic Games. King says with his athlete’s dedication and skill, and the support of Boccia Australia, the sky is the limit.
“When someone as young as Dylan comes to me with this particular skill set, his ability to see the future and his determination to put in all the hard work, it is really a great talent and a great joy for me to work with.”
Want to learn more about Win Well? Click here to meet Alyce Wood and how Win Well is supporting her push for a third Olympic Games, as well as her life away from sport.