The Scottish Association of Blind Bowlers (SABB) attended the International Blind Bowlers Association World Championships in Cape Town, South Africa from the 20 – 27th March.
SABB, led by Team Manager David Thomas, were keen to maintain and indeed improve on previous performances and took a full squad of eight players and eight assistants to the event.
David, who was appointed President of the IBBA in Worthing 2013, would relinquish the title and duties to Dr Sarah Shapiro from Israel at the closing ceremony on the 27th of March.
The team arrived three days early to acclimatise to the hot conditions and faster green speeds, highly recommended for bowlers based in the northern hemisphere. The heat was another factor to be considered and became a serious problem for the players, with play having to be suspended on a number of occasions as temperatures reached the high 30’s and low 40’s. Some of the players suffered from dehydration and others severe stomach upset.
However, under these extreme circumstances, there was a silver lining in the form of 2015 IBD World B2 singles and pair champion Irene Edgar. Irene got off to a great start and won her first three games; she was in contention to win her first IBBA gold, but unfortunately, this was hampered due to illness and she had to concede her game to Australia. This turned out to be costly and despite winning her last game, Australia won gold from Scotland on shot difference and Irene had to settle for silver.
Her husband Billy Edgar (B2) needed to win his last game for any chance of a medal. A tough challenge as the game was against the section leader, Hong Kong. Billy played an outstanding game and won 21 -19, earning himself a bronze and allowing South Africa to win gold and Hong Kong to end up with silver.
The final Scottish medal went to Fiona Scotland (B4) playing in her first World Championship. Her victory 21 -20 against England’s, Liz Ward, guaranteed a bronze medal.
Because of the health issues, this affected the mixed pairs events and no medals were achieved.
Overall, Scotland ended up 6th out of a field of 10, which is felt by many as an underachievement. On a positive note, the performances of the Edgars at this level bodes well, as both players are members of the Scottish Disability Sport para bowls programme and both are in contention for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.