More than 20 vision impaired bowlers took to the greens last week to compete for their shot at a national title at the New Zealand Blind National Championships in Christchurch, demonstrating a top level of bowls throughout the week in both the singles and pairs disciplines.
Hosted at the Burnside Bowling Club and endorsed as a Bowls New Zealand Summer of Bowls event, inclement weather did little to dampen the spirits of the competitors, competing in their respective categories, determined by their level of sight.
The B1 division represents the totally blind bowlers, B2 bowlers see very little and nothing clearly, B3 players are able to move about with a degree of independence, but still have little ability to see the detail of the bowls head and B4 competitors are affected mostly by tunnel vision (compared to looking through two straws and being able to see only in a straight line, with little, if any, peripheral vision).
The championships got underway in fine style over the first two days, with the late withdrawal of repeat performer David Monk in the B1 category surprisingly throwing the competition wide open – an opportunity Glenn Hanneman (with Director Bernard Yeo) seized, coasting through the championship unbeaten in an impressive run of form to the title, with Louise Henry (with Director Norm Parkes) running a distant second with three wins from six starts.
The B2 match-up saw reigning champion Deane Robertson (with Director Kevin Smith) lift the trophy for the second successive year, defending his title in a winner takes-all fixture opposite Gerald Brouwers (with Director Bill Easton) – Robertson clawing back a 7-2 deficit to claim the title, 14-10.
B3’s event proved a nail-biting finish, with David Stallard (with Director Helen Stallard) closing out an exceptional final opposite Danny Simon (with Director David Conroy), securing the title, 17-16 in a closely-fought contest through to the final bowl.
In other results, the B4 competition, played as a seven-game round-robin event, was taken out by the ever-consistent performer James Dunn (no director), who remained in classy touch to sweep all seven fixtures and take out the title, defeating last year’s champion Spencer Stacy (with Director Sue Ashton), who completed his campaign as runner-up with six wins and his only loss falling at the hands of the former world championship representative, Dunn.
Meanwhile, as the tournament progressed and sun came out, the pairs action was contested with the B1 & B2 categories combining and the B3 & B4 divisions forming one.
In the B1/B2 pairs discipline, Joseph Kim (with Director Margaret Davies) and Gordon Oldfield (with Director Roydon James) worked well to turn the tables on a previous qualifying loss to the formidable pairing of Ron Syme (with Director Sharon Perry) and recently crowned singles champion Hanneman, dominating the final 19-3 and rounding out a well deserved national title victory among a fiercely contested line-up.
Across rinks, the B3/B4 combined division was played as a winner-takes all five round event, with Sue Curran (with Director Ann Muir) and teammate Don Clark (with Director Ray Zajonskowski) jumping ahead in the final round, with a calm and composed Curran drawing the winning shot to lift the title ahead of Spencer Stacey and Susie Tukariri (with Director Anne Easton) – defeating Stallard and teammate Kaye Wood (with Director Garth Wood) in a thrilling finish to the week’s action at Burnside.
The event concluded with a dinner and prize-giving evening where all competitors and directors could wind down and reflect on the success of the week that was.
Results at a Glance
2018 New Zealand Blind National Championships, Christchurch
B1: Glenn Hanneman (Director, Bernard Yeo)
B2: Deane Robertson (Director, Kevin Smith)
B3: David Stallard (Director, Helen Stallard)
B4: James Dunn (no director)
B1/B2: Joseph Kim, Gordon Oldfield (Directors, Margaret Davies, Roydon James)
B3/B4: Sue Curran, Don Clark (Directors, Ann Muir & Ray Zajonskowski)