Leading Fife bowlers with a physical, sensory and learning disability are enjoying a wonderful year in major competitions throughout the UK. Fife’s top physically disabled and visually impaired bowlers made a significant contribution to Team Scotland’s superb win in the 2016 Home Nations at Kelvingrove and Fife’s leading bowlers with a learning disability successfully defended the Scottish Inter Area team title. Individual Fife bowlers have been prominent in every major bowls competition organised by Scottish Disability Sport in 2016 and yet again there were Fife successes at the inclusive national championships organised by Bowls Scotland at Northfield in Ayr.
One of the most experienced and respected Disability Sport Fife bowlers is Eleanor Clark from Kirkcaldy. Eleanor’s sight has been deteriorating each year and she now bowls in class B1 which is the section for totally blind bowlers. Previously she bowled as a partially sighted bowler in the B2 class and the change has resulted in her having to make major adjustments in technique and using occlusion glasses. All B1 sports men and women across all sports use blacked out glasses or goggles to ensure fairness across the class. Adjusting to this new way of playing has been challenging but Eleanor believes it was inevitable that one day she would have to change and she is successfully training to accommodate her new way of playing.
To confirm her progress Eleanor recently won the B1 singles title at the 2016 National Championships organised by the Scottish Association of Blind Bowlers (SABB) at Ardgowan in Greenock. Eleanor is now preparing for the British Championships at Leamington Spa in mid September. This year she will be without reigning world champion and dear friend Maria Spencer from Dunfermline who has gone through major surgery but hopes to return to playing next year.
Eleanor’s director on the green is Doreen Strachan from West Lothian. Doreen supported Eleanor in Greenock and will travel south with her next month to challenge for the British title. Eleanor has been selected by SABB to compete at the 2017 World Championships in Cape Town and she is hopeful that Doreen will be by her side once again. Eleanor is a member of Kirkcaldy Blind Bowlers and playes at the Fair Isle club.
Eleanor’s success this year is all the more remarkable because of the recent sudden and unexpected loss of her partner Jim of 30 years. Jim was always by her side and a major support throughout her illustrious bowling career. The loss of Jim has affected her life in so many ways but this remarkable sportswoman is determined to do what she believes Jim would want her to do and that is to further her bowling career. Eleanor has many friends and a strong support team who will support her all the way.
Richard Brickley MBE
President, Disability Sport Fife