Steve Delaney and Gordon Oldfield (centre) with directors Roydon James and Colin Delaney. Photo: Jonty Dine.

Blind bowlers on a roll

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Nelson’s best vision impaired bowlers are setting their sights on more gold.

Steve Delaney and Gordon Oldfield won gold in the pairs at the SummerSet Blind Bowls in Christchurch last week, to put the duo right in the mix for national selection.

It was the first time the pair had played together in a tournament and it was a resoundingly successful start to the partnership.

Gordon couldn’t see the crowd but could certainly feel the hundreds of eyes on him in a pressure cooker of a final at the Papanui Club.

“I probably made an error by telling him,” says Steve.

The pressure took its toll on Gordon early on as he struggled for form and even rolled a bowl with the bias facing the wrong way.

“I do that about once a year a chose this time.”

The men were also battling fatigue having come straight from their semifinal victory into the decider.

“If your tense in this game, you don’t play well,” says Gordon.

However, they eventually clicked to defeat Dean Roberson and Danny Simon from Christchurch and Hamilton in comfortable fashion.

“We found our rhythm and got the result; we didn’t even play the last end because it was impossible for them to win.”

The three-day tournament saw the pair play up to nine hours a day which Steve says he felt in the aftermath.

“It was tiring, took me three days to recover.”

He says a few beers were enjoyed too which probably made him more lethargic.

“Rehydration is important,” says Gordon.

Steve and Gordon are both visually impaired but to varying degrees.

Bowlers are put into categories based on their different visual abilities with Gordon a B2 and Steve B4.

“It makes us sound like Bananas in Pajamas,” Gordon jokes.

Steve’s weekend didn’t end there as he followed the victory with gold in the singles pairs.

This comes on the back of his win at the nationals last year.

“It’s more satisfying being able to back it up, a greater sense of achievement in the sense that nationals wasn’t a fluke.”

He says he now has more self-belief about going on to higher honours.

“It makes it more of a reality of what the possibilities are.”

Those possibilities have seen him set his sights on the trans- Tasman tournament later this year.

The Blind Jacks team is named at end of the month Gordon says his partner is a “very good chance to represent that team”.

With Steve’s father and Gordon’s brother in law acting as the pair’s directors, Steve says it is always a fun time on and off the green.

“A lot of humour, a lot of laughing, we enjoy each other’s company.”

Gordon says the social aspect of the sport is crucial to those living with a disability.

“The chance to have those connections is so important, it can be easy to become isolated.”

Gordon says he has known several players who have had serious mental health challenges and playing bowls made all the difference.

“Anyone else who is vision impaired, come and join us, we would love to have you come along.”

Tournaments are self-funded, so anyone willing to contribute to costs to help cover travel costs can contact [email protected]