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#IBDChamps: Rees-Gibbs proud to represent SA

“Wearing this badge and the Protea means the world to all of us.”

Benonian Gareth Rees-Gibbs admitted he felt overwhelming pride to represent SA after his opening match of the International Bowls for the Disabled (IBD) Championships at Benoni Central Bowling Club on May 19.

With a lump in his throat, a passionate Rees-Gibbs said it is always emotional wearing the green and gold after he and his partner, Jarid James, helped SA to a 17-14 win over Thailand in their men’s B7 (ambulant and wheelchair with minor balance problems) pairs match.

Gareth Rees-Gibbs takes his time as he prepares to throw.

“It’s the most cherished thing you can have. Wearing this badge and the Protea means the world to all of us,” he said.

Steady start

Rees-Gibbs said they began the competition steadily and applauded James for his consistency and for landing the balls in positions that gave them an advantage.

“It was steady, but we started well. The competition is tough, but it’s what you get when you play against other countries. We came here to win.

SA’s Jarid James.

“Jarid was very consistent. He put the balls close to the jack, giving us many options to work with and get good results. We were lucky to get away with a 17:14 win.”

Individually, Rees-Gibbs said he aims to get a gold medal to add to the silver and bronze he won at the multi-nations and world bowls championships Down Under last year.

“I’ve played for SA twice, in the multi-nations and worlds in Australia. I got a bronze and a silver. So, I expect to do better. I’ve been working my way up. I want a gold medal.”

Scotland’s Daniel Porter.

The tournament began with an opening ceremony and cocktail party on May 18 at the Delville Bowling Club in Germiston. The bowlers took to the greens on May 19 and treated the fans to exhilarating matches when the bowlers displayed their talent and dedication.

In selected matches, the England team of Alfie Orvis and Jack Pullin beat Canada’s Andy Caldwell and Jack Smart 21-9, while Scotland’s Daniel Porter and Dudley Saunders beat Malaysia’s Mohamad Khukri Bi Twkino and Mahathir Bin Mohammad 34-8.

Singapore’s Mohamed Khirmen and Michael James Joseph claimed a narrow 14-13 win over SA’s Nico Beetge and Eric Streso.

The tournament began with the opening ceremony on May 18.

BSA proud

The Bowls SA (BSA) president, Heather Boucher, said it meant a great deal to the organisation to host the tournament, adding that it’s the first major competition they had since adding bowls for the disabled under BSA.

“We are bringing bowls for the disabled under the auspices of Bowls SA. I’m excited about it. We’ve done a lot to try and promote disability bowls,” she said.

Heather Boucher.

Watching the bowlers with disabilities perform on the greens was inspiring and encouraging, said Boucher, adding that their dedication to the game and their hard work put in is 10 times more than that of able-bodied bowlers.

Boucher, former Proteas coach and wicket-keeper Mark Boucher’s mother and Tom Newby School and Benoni High alumnus, said BSA would step in and assist the physically and visually impaired bowlers financially once the amalgamation process is complete.

Andy Caldwell from Canada.

“It’s our plan, but one area we haven’t touched is finances. Last year, we helped them with transport and accommodation costs at the multi-nations and worlds in Australia. In the future, once we’ve sorted the amalgamation process, I’m sure BSA will take over and help,” said Boucher.

The matches for the physically disabled bowlers are held at Benoni Central and Kempton Park Bowling clubs, while Delville hosts the visually impaired bowlers.

The pairs will continue until May 22, and the singles will start on May 24. The knockouts and finals will be held in Delville on May 30 and 31.

Also Read: International Bowls for the Disabled tourney starts this weekend

Also Read: Help bowlers take part in world champs

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