The medal haul for team Australia at the Asia Oceania Senior and Junior Bocce (Raffa) Championships Kota Bharu, Kelantan, Malaysia (December 4-8, 2022), was 3 gold, 1 silver and 3 bronze – the best ever at an international Bocce-Raffa championship.
The team of four consisted of Franco Fava, Diane Penney, Mary Massena, and Antonio Biancacci. Franco, Diane, and Mary are from the Morwell Bocce club in regional Victoria and Antonio Biancacci is from the Lazio Marche Club, Melbourne.
Antonio and Franco were at the championships to run the two-day referee course, but a last minute withdrawal from a number of Asia Oceania nations left the organisers short on teams, hence the call-up for both Franco Fava and Antonio Biancacci compete, which they did and did they do Australia proud!
The day one of the championships started with the Australian Bocce-Raffa champion Diane Penney and newbie bocce player Antonio Biancacci winning the first event, the mixed doubles.
Antonio Biancacci although a newbie to Bocce-Raffa was a past player of Bocce sport and more recently has focused on the administration side of the sport being VP of Bocce Australia, FIB and Secretary General of the CBI (World Bocce Raffa governing body).
As for his doubles team partner Diane Penney, she is the current National Women’s Bocce Raffa champion and has recently returned from the World Bocce Championships in Mersin, Turkey, where she achieved overall ranking of 17th in the world. Both have continued Australia’s spectacular start to the Bocce-Raffa championship season by striking Asia Oceania Mixed Doubles gold.
Penney, a Bocce Australia Hall of Fame and team of the half century member and three-time Australian Bocce-Raffa champion along with Biancacci, won the championship-opening Mixed Doubles event in Kota Bharu, Malaysia, with the first gold for Australia.
This is the third Asia Oceania Confederation championship held and the second time hosted in Malaysia with the inaugural championship in 2019 hosted in India. The twelve member nations make up the Asia Oceania region, and with the Confederation Championships being the pinnacle event whereby the top 2 nations qualifying to compete in the World Championships.
“I can’t stop smiling. It’s been a really good day, making it through each round as number one,” Biancacci said.
In the Malaysian city of Kota Bharu, Diane Penney and Antonio Biancacci rolled to her first international victory in the Bocce-Raffa code of the bocce sport, outplaying their opponents Malaysia in the final for the breakthrough triumph.
Diane was left almost speechless after taking her first international gold victory in her relatively short bocce sport career.
The winning continued through the championship with another newbie to the Bocce-Raffa championship, Mary Massena winning the bronze medal in the singles narrowly missing out on making it into the final.
In the Women’s Doubles Mary and Diane again were very competitive but it was the home team of Malaysia which were too good winning the final resulting in Australia getting the silver medal. Diane reversed the results in the Women’s Precsion Throw storming through the Precision Throws with a strong score of 14 points beating Malaysia 9 points and winning the gold for Australia.
In the men’s division the team of Fava and Biancacci were very competitive and won the bronze medal in the doubles as they were very unlucky on some ends narrowly missing the target and missing out on gaining the points. In the Precision Throw it was the same with Franco Fava who finished in third spot winning the bronze medal. In the men’s singles, Franco Fava shone and won each end to go through to the final and win the Asia Oceania Bocce-Raffa Singles title.
The team of Fava, Penney, Messena and Biancacci, by winning the medals have qualified and secured a slot for Team Australia to compete in the next World Bocce-Raffa Championship which will be held in Algeria in late 2023.
The medal tally for Australia was as follows:
- Gold – Mixed Doubles (Penney and Biancacci)
- Gold – Women’s Precision Throw (Diane Penney)
- Gold – Men’s Singles (Franco Fava)
- Silver – Women’s Doubles (Penney and Massena)
- Bronze – Men’s Precision Throw (Franco Fava)
- Bronze – Women’s Singles (Mary Massena )
- Bronze – Men’s Doubles (Fava and Biancacci)
Total: 3 gold, 1 silver, 3 bronze.