Former New Zealand para-bowls athlete Lynda Bennett has doubled up at the 2019 National Disabled Bowls championships in Christchurch this week, taking out the open singles and drawn triples in spectacular fashion at the Kaiapoi Riverside headquarters.
Bennett, a Glasgow Commonwealth Games silver medallist, was in commanding form, first winning the singles opposite Frank Overend and rounding out the week with an unbeaten run in the triples – ironically with Overend skipping the runner-up trio.
Joining Bennett in the triples, Victor Christensen and Anthony Broderick were in equally impressive form, providing a steady platform for Bennett to add the finishing touches to – the combination comfortably bettering their opposition in all four fixtures to remain the only team unbeaten.
Unlike the open Bowls New Zealand national championships, where players enter in combinations of their own preference, the NZ Disabled Nationals is based on an open draw format, where all participants are selected at random to make up the field’s respective combinations.
Outside of Bennett’s wins, former New Zealand representative and Burnside bowler Snow Reardon combined well with relative newcomer to the disabled bowls’ scene, Graham Marshall – a Timaru development bowler in his second year of the sport, both working well to clinch the pairs title by a solitary shot.
Reardon and Marshall edged a cliffhanger match-up with Blenheim hopeful Mason Lucas and Naenae lead John MacNeill, thrilling rinkside spectators and keeping all players on high alert until the final bowl came to rest.
With the scores locked up at 18-18 after 11 of the 12 ends, Reardon and Marshall put themselves in the box seat with a couple of handy first up bowls, and with Lucas’s final bowl finishing agonisingly short, the title went the way of Reardon and Marshall, prompting cheers from appreciative onlookers.
Other results saw Marshall take out the Plate singles event, defeating Omakau’s Pam Walker in the final, while Phil Huwyler finished third.
Commenting on the event, Kaiapoi Riverside club president Warren Stanbury said the standard of play was exceptional, with almost 60 players taking part across all three disciplines throughout the week.
“It was absolutely brilliant all round, we had some really hot weather towards the end and it was great for the players and spectators not competing in the finals to sit in the club house and watch the live streaming on the screen,” Stanbury said.
“The games were played in great spirit and from a club perspective, we’re delighted with the way our members got behind the event and delivered a quality showpiece . . . the feedback has been very positive and all in all, it has gone down as a winner with everyone involved.”
The Kaiapoi Workingmen’s Club and the Papanui Club were also used for qualifying play.
The week concluded with the presentation of trophies and medals at the Thursday evening meal, with guest speaker Dick Tayler (1974 Olympic Gold Medallist) entertaining the field, along with representation from both Bowls New Zealand and Bowls Canterbury.
The NZ Disabled National Bowls Championships will return next year, this time North Island bound, where the Ngongotaha Bowling Club in Rotorua will play host in November, 2020.
Results at a Glance
2019 NZ Disabled National Championships, Kaiapoi Riverside
Champion: Lynda Bennett
Runner-up: Frank Overend
Third: Kotoni Fe’ao
Champion: Snow Reardon, Graham Marshall
Runner-up: Mason Lucas, John MacNeill
Champion: Lynda Bennett, Victor Christensen, Anthony Broderick
Runner-up: Frank Overend, Snow Reardon, Nathan Wilkinson
by Sam Morton