Duo bowling along
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
TRAVELLING to her first national championships, vision impaired lawn bowler Debbie Waddell is a bit wary of the heavy workload ahead of her.
Starting tomorrow, Waddell and reigning national singles champ Tom Sawtell will take to greens at the Rydalmere Central Bowling Club for nine consecutive days of bowls.
Having picked Sawtell's brain about what to expect at the championships, Waddell knows that as she is playing in the singles, pairs and mixed pairs divisions, she's looking at playing probably 27 matches in her time in Sydney.
"It's six hours of bowls each day plus the roll up time," Sawtell said drawing on his past experience.
"It's the longest tournament I know. "If you look at all the other championships that happen, they don't play for that long."
While Sawtell is an experienced bowler and the president of the local Mid North Coast Vision Impaired and Blind Bowls Association, Waddell's bowls history is at the opposite end of the spectrum.
She only took up the sport 14 months ago and amazingly, with only eight months of experience under her belt, Waddell collected a pair of silver medals at the state championships held in October at Riverview.
Since then Waddell has been a constant sight on the greens in preparation for her big test over the upcoming week and a half.
"I think I've improved since the state championships as I try and practice as much as I can as well as playing once a week," she said.
"I'm sure that as you progress and the more you do it and practice, it's only natural that you would get better."
Bowling yesterday at Woolgoolga with the rest of the members of the association, it was obvious that Sawtell had a lot of pride in the rapid progress that Waddell has made since going for her first roll.
Her membership came about by chance when Waddell's son and Sawtell were both presented with community awards on the same night and Sawtell mentioned the benefits that vision impaired bowls gives during his acceptance speech.
The next Monday, Waddell was on the green and she's barely missed a Monday afternoon with the large group of vision impaired bowlers at various bowls clubs in the area since.
Rydalmere will be a different kettle of fish to a pleasant Monday afternoon on the Mid North Coast but it doesn't faze the inexperienced bowler.
"It's the first time I've been in a competition like this, it's very exciting," she explained.
"I'm just looking forward to meeting all the other bowlers from every other state."