Scottish Disability Sport (SDS) and the Scottish Indoor Bowling Association (SIBA) were delighted to hold the 2nd annual National Indoor Para Bowls Singles Championships once again at Falkirk IBC. The event originally arose out of a willingness of various stakeholders agreeing to work together to make this new event possible and complete the circle of competition in all formats of the sport. SDS, SIBA, Scottish Association of Blind Bowlers (SABB) and Scottish Deaf Bowlers Association (SDBA) all contributed to this event and evidences what can be achieved by strong partnership working. The event has proven to be an exciting addition to the bowling calendar and was further strengthened by the involvement this year of Co-op Funeralcare who have committed to the sponsorship of this event for at least the next three years.
The event continues to grow with 63 bowlers competing over three days of competition – an increase on competitors and days from 2016. Plans are already in place to grow further for 2018 with SIBA committing to providing trophies for each section.
The first day of the event witnessed the bowlers with a learning disability competing over three sections for the title of national champion.
The bowlers with a learning disability section featured 24 bowlers from four SDS branches and a high quality field turned out for the second opportunity at a national indoor title.
In the Male A section an all-Fife clash saw Daryl Stewart defeat Craig Donaldson by the narrowest of margins in an enthralling final with plenty quality on show.
The Female A section featured last year’s champion – Lothian bowler Amanda Craig and a bowler who has had a phenomenal season with her club, Fife’s Pamela Mitchell. Both bowlers began strongly before Pamela eased away following the fifth end to finish on top.
An all Lothian final in the Gents B section culminated with last year’s finalist Christina McSherry edging out her stablemate Euan Wright.
The deaf bowlers featured one male section and one female section. Once again, it was a real pleasure to welcome the deaf bowlers to the event and thanks have to go to Keith Hyland – secretary of the SDBA for his co-ordination and in his role as interpreter during the event.
Morris Cavanagh (Lothian) won the male section finishing ahead of Billy Paxton (Glasgow) 21-10. Charlotte Simpson (Glasgow) proved too strong in the final defeating Isabella Ingram (Dundee) by the same score.
The bowlers with a visual impairment had two sections B2/B3 for Male & Female. The Fife Pocket Rocket Maria Spencer defended her title with aplomb and defeated fellow IBD World Champion Irene Edgar (Ayrshire) in the female section.
Irene’s husband Billy Edgar – another gold medallist from New Zealand 2015 – defeated Fife’s Ian Graham in the final 21-15. Three of the four finalists in these sections have been selected to represent Scotland at the upcoming 8 Nations Test Series in Gold Coast, Australia in June. Irene, Billy and Maria will travel with a squad of 18 players, directors and coaches who will join up with their mainstream counterparts in the southern hemisphere for a fortnight of competition as a qualifier for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Four females competed in the open section for female bowlers with a physically disability. Barbara McMillan, Tracy Black, Mary Wilson and Rosemary Lenton completed the round robin section. The final was contested between the two vastly experienced bowlers Barbara McMillan (Fife) and Rosemary Lenton (Dumfries & Galloway). A resounding victory for Barbara by 21 shots to 8 proved her hard work in the close season has begun to bear fruit.
The B6 male section saw an increase of 100% in competitors which illustrates the strength in depth of this section following a period of identification of players. Despite the expanded section two familiar names contested the final. Billy Allan (Fife) avenged his semi-final knockout last year by defeating Lothian’s Gary Clelland 21 shots to 9.
The section for B7/8 Male bowlers grew in numbers by 3 from 2016 and the final proved to be a repeat of the 2016 edition with South Lanarkshire’s Garry Brown defeating Ayrshire’s John Wardrope by a slightly more comfortable score of 21-16 than his one –shot victory last year. Celebrations continued for these two bowlers as they discovered – along with Billy Allan – that they too had been selected to join Team Scotland on the trip down under.
Indoor bowling offers significant competitive and participation opportunities to bowlers. Therefore, after the continued success of this event, every effort should be made to develop and encourage its expansion throughout the branches and regions.
There are clearly bowlers playing regularly that are still to be identified by SDS and its member branches and continued efforts should be made to engage as far and wide with all partners in the bowling community to enable the sport to continue to grow. This should ensure bowlers with a disability access established pathways and keep Scotland at the forefront of this great sport internationally.