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#IBDChamps: Bowler urges communities and corporates to rally behind disability sports

She said not enough was being done to uplift disability sports in SA.

SA para-athlete Vicky van der Merwe would like to see more opportunities to represent the country given to athletes with disabilities.

She said bodies such as the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC), communities and corporates do not do enough to uplift disability bowls in SA.

“No, not enough is being done. We are working on promoting disability bowls and getting more people involved. Many disabled people who don’t know about this game could be out here exercising and meeting new people.”

SA’s Margie Palmer.


Van der Merwe, who serves on the Physically Disabled Bowls SA committee and the executive committee of Disability Bowls SA, would like to see corporates and the country rally behind para-athletes and more media coverage for disability sports.

“We want to try and get companies involved to help us grow the game, especially in disadvantaged areas.”

She welcomed the addition of Disability Bowls SA to Bowls SA, saying, “It would help a lot, and it’s great that we’ll be under the same umbrella”.

Canada’s Jack Smart.

Tough competition

Van der Merwe currently represents SA in the International Bowls for the Disabled (IBD) Championships hosted in Delville, Benoni and Kempton Park.

She and her partner, Margie Palmer, finished fourth in the B8 mixed pairs, with three wins from eight matches.

“The competition is heavy. We were the only ladies playing against men in our section. They were tough, especially the South Koreans. But each team we faced was tough. We grew in every game we played,” Van der Merwe said.

SA’s Jarid James.

“Playing against men is probably the best thing a woman can do. It improves your game and allows you to play shots you thought you couldn’t. It’s been a great experience.”

The bowler was part of Team SA at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, UK, in 2022. She won a bronze medal with her women’s pairs partner, Desiree Levin.

Honoured to represent SA

She expressed immense pride in representing the country and said she would like to build on her Commonwealth Games success in the IDB tournament by winning a gold medal.

SA’s Gareth Rees-Gibbs.

“I’m super proud to be wearing these colours representing SA. This country has so much to offer. I want to grow from here. There’s no feeling like putting on these colours to represent your country.”

Van der Merwe’s SA teammate, Jarid James, shed tears when asked what it meant to represent the country.

“It’s an honour and a privilege. It’s something I would recommend people to strive for. It’s taken me 13 years, while it took my partner, Gareth Rees-Gibbs, 28 years to wear these colours. I would gladly motivate anyone who would like to get to this point,” said James.

Jarid James wants to win a gold medal in the singles.

The Kempton Park resident said they’ve had a tough time on the greens but was happy to do it for his country.
He and Rees-Gibbs qualified for the B7 men’s pairs play-offs after accumulating 176 points to finish in third place.

“We’ve had our ups and downs. We want to prove a point. We are ranked at the top and would like to maintain that ranking. We are accumulating points for SA. We’ll find out in a week if we did enough to keep our number one ranking,” he said.

James said his goal is to finish in the top three in the singles, which starts today (May 25).

Also Read: #IBDChamps: Benonian proud to represent SA

Also Read: The Corner Flag: Disability sport deserves better


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