Welsh Association of Visually Impaired Bowlers

 

News.

British Isles (UK) Singles.

Llandrindod Wells BC set in the very heartlands of Wales was the venue for the British Isles Visually Impaired (VI) Singles from the 13th-16th June.

For several of the players on all teams, this was the next major competition following the Gold coast and the Commonwealth Games. Although we may not be in the Southern Hemisphere we were confident of quality fast greens and hopeful that the weather would be kind (if not Australian!)

On the morning of the 14th all nations assembled ahead of the Opening Ceremony where the visiting dignitaries led by the Mayor of Llandrindod, John Williams warmly welcomed everyone to the wonderful venue and wished us all good bowling, pob lwc a bowlio da i bawb.

Welsh team

[Welsh team]

For the next 3 days, the competition was intense with titles and medals fiercely contested. What a wonderful sight to have the three greens full of top quality bowlers. The ring of ' umpire ' could be regularly heard and our thanks go to Eddie Williams for organising our valued team of umpires over the 3 days.

For Wales, it was great to have several new players receiving their first Welsh Cap. Val Chard, Donna Livoti-Green, Gordon Harries (first outdoor cap) and Steve Whitmore (first outdoor cap). They all showed their potential with a bronze medal for Steve Whitmore.

Team manager John Wilson said "I was delighted with the improvement and potential shown by all players involved. There is no mistaking this developing team has a promising future "

With Wales securing its best results in this competition for 20 years, finishing runners up in the overall Team Trophy (albeit with a smaller team) his comments are justified.

He adds, "Toby Warren who achieved a Silver medal in a very strong field was among the pick of results along with the magnificent achievement of Julie Thomas winning all her games with a 57 shots difference to the runner up, incredible. She now has the remarkable honour of having retained both the indoor & outdoor UK B2 Ladies singles titles. Managing a team of this calibre and potential makes me very proud. They all did themselves, their country and me very proud "

Julie Thomas and Director John Wilson

[Julie Thomas and Director John Wilson]

Five medals were achieved in total:

GOLD:
Julie Thomas (B2) with
Director John Wilson

SILVER:
Toby Warren ( B4)

BRONZE:
Sheila Kinch (B3)
Madeline Roberts (B4) with
Director Geoff John
Steve Whitmore (B3) with
Director Olwyn Whitmore.

Medallists Steve, Shiela, Madeline, Julie and Toby

[Medallists Steve, Shiela, Madeline, Julie and Toby].

The closing presentation led by the Mayor John Williams and other dignitaries brought to an end a fantastic tournament. John Wilson wishes to place on record his gratitude for the support given in organising the event to Ken Price, President of Llandrindod Wells club and to all the officers, members and volunteers who so ably assisted us. It was a pleasure to host this event and what an event it was.

Commonwealth Games: Gold Coast 2018

It was hard to believe but the day had finally arrived when we would begin our journey out to the Gold Coast, Australia for the start of the Commonwealth Games (CG). As member of Team Wales there had been a great deal of preparation training and support ahead of this day and both excitement and nervousness had been building for months.
Why excitement? Well we were going to the other side of the world and representing our country in the pinnacle of our sport. What an honour.
And Australia, just Wow?

Nervousness? Well, it's good to be nervous, a massive occasion and we just wanted to do our best. For us an added challenge, Wales had the oldest competitor at the games and the only blind competitor at the games. Both in the same sport (us) we love a challenge.

Commonwealth team

[Team Wales]

Anyway we set off for Heathrow by Team Coach on Tuesday 27th March. A lovely send off at Cardiff by supporters with flags, banners and lots of cheers. Thursday 29th March (it's a very long way) we arrived in Australia. A warm welcome to our tired group of athletes by games makers, our Deputy Chef de Mission and some very friendly Australians was very warmly received and straight on to a coach to head for the Athletes Village. You will never guess, but for the journey to the Village it rained, absolute torrents. Welcome to Australia.

We settled into our accommodation, put up our Welsh flags and got our bearings. Everyone was so friendly. The Athletes Village was just like a village. Roads, medical centre, high rise apartments, shop, it was absolutely enormous. Training began in earnest and getting used to the extremely different conditions. Both John Wilson (Team Manager) and Byron John the directors had planned our sessions at different times of the day to take into account changing conditions and heat. Several sessions a day but concentrating on specific aspects.

Julie Thomas

[Julie Thomas]

The greens are so different, the climate, the atmosphere, security so much to adjust too. In order to get to the bowls green you have to travel, check in and out of an airport style security it's all things you have to prepare for and take in your stride. Different bowls and surfaces take some adjusting too but the greens are fantastic, so quick. It doesn't seem like grass but it is. The wind is another factor. We practised hard, adapted to bomb and bag checks and time soon arrived for the start of the competition.

Opening ceremony first and boy did we make a splash. Our Hawaiian style "Welsh" themed shirts certainly had impact. A great opening ceremony and the games had really begun.

Competition began in earnest and games every day of the first stage. Needed to finish in the top four to progress to the semi finals. All the teams had pre qualified the year before so every game was tough. Some games were decided on the last end with only a shot in it. It was a tough competition.

The atmosphere was like nothing we had ever encountered before. Music, chanting, it was like being at a football match. Gamesmakers led chants and cheers. It was something incredible and special.

We played hard and reached the semi finals. Now to fight for s medal. Playing South Africa in the semi finals. It was nip and tuck all the way through. 10-8 to SA with 2 ends to go. We are holding a 3, one bowl left from Gili. We end up picking up a 1 to go 10-9 into last end. We are holding 2 for game with just skips to go. Nothing changes for next 5 bowls nerves jangling. Last bowl of the game from SA skip he hits their bowl up to take shot. They win 11-9 on last bowl. We are now in bronze medal match against Scotland.

What a match. Green was so different. So much slower than anything we had played on in the three weeks. But what a match. Both teams fighting for one medal. We had beaten Scotland in the rounds. Could we do it again?

Bowls players

[Wales' Commonwealth bowlers]

12-11 after 14 ends wales holding 1 both skips trying to change. Wales trying to add 1, Scotland knocking it out. Nerves jangling again. Final score 12-12 after 15 ends extra end. What an end. It changed on every bowl. Scotland holding after first two bowls then Wales holding after leads had played. Now down to the skips. It changed each bowl. Gili bowled the best three bowls he has probably ever bowled or will ever bowl in his life. He was inspired from somewhere. On his last bowl he took it back and Wales took bronze. What a night?

victory

[Victory!]

Cheers and shouts around the stadium, it seemed that the excitement of the game had gripped the crowd and the crowd had turned Welsh.

Medal ceremony followed, a proud moment, one we will always remember and treasure. Our bowls team Julie Thomas directed by John Wilson, Gilbert Miles directed by Byron John.

Bronze medalists

[Bronze medalists]

A wonderful games, proud to be part of Team Wales thanks to everyone who supported us and made this possible both before we went and out there.

Commonwealth Bronze for Wales.

Commonwealth win

Julie Thomas and partner Gilbert Miles win Bronze Medals in the Mixed B2/B3 Pairs Bowls at the Commonwealth Games. Directors John Wilson and Byron John guided them to a success against Scotland.

A fantastic medal match which went to a thrilling extra end that was decided with Gilbert's last bowl. What a great advertisement for VI Bowls.

Meet the Team.

Wales' B2/3 VI Mixed Pairs.

Julie and Gilbert

With the Commonwealth Games 2018 hosting the largest para-sport programme in its history, the sport of bowls is delighted to be represented in the Visually Impaired (VI) competition by medal hopefuls, Julie Thomas and Gilbert Miles, directed by John Wilson and Byron John respectively.

Ten years ago, Julie was a headteacher, but her life completely changed when she lost her sight and was suddenly faced with the challenge of rebuilding her life.

It was in 2014, when someone suggested she tried bowls, and as Julie explained this had a positive impact,

‘Taking up bowls was the best decision I ever made. Having participated in a few taster sessions I was hooked.’

Thomas was lucky enough to be partnered with John Wilson who will be with her at the Games. He taught her to bowl and, as she explained gave so much more,

‘John and bowls have transformed my life. Together we have worked out successful ways to bowl and communicate.

Sport is amazing and has definitely been life changing.’

Julie and John had been working towards the Commonwealth Games for a number of years, so on hearing she had been selected she said,

‘It seemed a little surreal, as if it wasn’t really happening.

Now it has sunk in I’m absolutely delighted, it is a real honour and a dream come true.’

Having played on the greens in the Gold Coast in 2017, both Julie and John know what to expect,

‘We have been playing on fast indoor surfaces, carrying out particular drills and techniques to help with preparation.’

These dedicated bowls sessions have been combined with a mixture of individual and pairs practices, as well as Para Squad sessions and numerous Team Wales days,

‘It has been good to play across all disciplines. The sessions we have had have been very focused and have really sharpened our games.’

As well as her bowls practice, Thomas has been working hard to improve nutrition and fitness. This has entailed many weekly yoga sessions, combined with complimentary treatments such as reflexology and acupuncture.

All this hard work, combined with the wonderful relationship with her Director and great playing record, Julie will certainly be one to watch at the games .

The link between the director and player is so important in VI Bowls. They play as a team with the director on the green providing support, information and advice to the athlete throughout the match.

In 1959 when VI bowls was first introduced, the bowler would be placed on the mat and bowl to the sound of a voice, the clapping of hands or the ringing of a bell from behind the jack.

Now, a clock system is used to help the player achieve a mental picture of play. This, along with a fine white centre string which runs under the mat and fixed at both ends of the rink, helps the bowler judge the angle for the amount of green required.

Gilbert Miles is one of the privileged few to have the chance to represent his country for a second time at the Commonwealth Games, having competed in Glasgow in 2014.

Having began playing bowls in the early 1990’s, what began as a social game with friends turned into a very competitive sport in no time, Gilbert explained,

‘I was encouraged by my friends to have a game one weekend when they were short of players and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I became a member of my local club and have never looked back.’

Having previously played competitively at many different levels, Gilbert was not
going to let the deterioration in his sight stop him.

He has a huge collection of Welsh titles spanning singles, pairs and triples events and he has been a runner up in the British Isles singles on three occasions.

Not surprisingly Gilbert was selected to play at the 2014 Games where he partnered Rosa Crean. Now, four years on Miles explained how it feels to be selected a second time,

‘I was quite choked when I was given the news and now I am really excited.
I was proud to achieve selection for my first Games so to do it for a second time is the icing on the cake.’

This time round he is partnered by Julie Thomas and Directed by his coach Byron John.

Training has stepped up a level with a varied programme of individual and pairs practices as well as Para Team squad sessions and Team Wales away days.

In addition to his bowls training, Gilbert has been working hard to get fitter and healthier,

‘In readiness for the games I have been walk- ing every day and have made real changes to my nutrition.’

He concluded,

‘I’m pleased how things are going at this busy time.’

DSW Awards Night.

The Commonwealth Games Para Athletes were invited to an evening of celebration and achievement at the Vale Resort, Hensol for the DSW Awards. The evening was full of inspiration, amazing achievements and real dedication from athletes, coaches, clubs and volunteers. Welsh sport has a great deal to be proud of.

Commonwealth team

Members of the Para Bowls Team: John Wilson (Coach/Manager) Margaret Wilson (Team Official) Julie Thomas (athlete) Raymond Lillycrop (athlete) Pauline Wilson (athlete) Jonathan Hubbard (athlete)

Para athletes

Welcome to the stage our Gold Coast Para Athletes, Coaches, Officials & Guests.

Sport can transform lives.

The three-times British sight-impaired champion from Bridgend plays at high levels in both sighted and visually-impaired competitions, travelling across the UK and the world to compete.

But she only picked up her first bowl three years ago, seven years after experiencing sudden and unexpected sight loss.'

A reporter Abby Bolter met up with Julie and her coach John Wilson to find out how sport had transformed her life. A great story published in several papers across Wales and on Wales Online. The story can be found here:

https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/completely-blind-bowler-takes-sighted-13972970

Warm Welcome At Bro Myrddin.

Bro Myrddin Bowls

John Wilson was delighted to take some of the Commonwealth Games Para Bowls Team along to Bro Myrddin Bowls Club in December.

Combining a demonstration with a training session for the squad John was keen to show both Club members and potential players just what can be achieved.

"The opportunity to chat with players themselves always makes a real difference and serves to inspire" said John Wilson ( Welsh VI Team Manager & Para Bowls Commonwealth Games Manager).

"For example, Julie Thomas has no sight (B1) so it always encourages others, whatever level of sight they have to feel they too can also give it a try when they talk to Julie. and she gives a demonstration."

The club are looking for partially sighted bowlers to form a team at the club to play possible fixtures. Sessions are held every Thursday 1-2pm.

Please contact Jackie at the club on 01267 236249 for further information.

Commonwealth Selection.

Visually-impaired bowler Julie Thomas tells BBC Sport Wales she can't believe her call-up to the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Thomas, from Cardiff, was a headteacher until she suddenly lost her sight ten years ago.

In 2014 she took up bowls and has since won Welsh and British titles - as well as competing in a fully sighted county bowls league.

She says after her traumatic loss of sight, the sport of bowls has 'transformed her life'.

Super interview here https://t.co/Ay5AX4fEdp

Julie Thomas

Julie will compete in B2 mixed pairs with Director John Wilson & Gilbert Miles with Byron John.

John Wilson, Para Team Manager says "I am delighted at the inclusion of our para athletes in the Games. We proved we were in contention in the test series in June this year where both teams won a bronze medal.

Welsh team in Australia

"Hard work continues and we are aiming high with a view to improve on earlier performances.

"If our athletes play to their full potential, I am sure success will follow"

John will be both Director to Julie as well as Team Manager for Para Bowls.

Team Wales Announce Commonwealth Games Selection.

Commonwealth Games Wales have today revealed the names of more Welsh athletes selected to compete for Team Wales in the para-sports featured at next year's Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.

The latest 2018 Team Wales athletes to be confirmed will be competing in para-lawn bowls. These athletes are:

Julie Thomas and Gilbert Miles in the visually impaired mixed pairs (B2/B3) event, directed by John Wilson and Byron John respectively. Pauline Wilson, Raymond Lillycrop and Jonathan Hubbard will compete in the open triples (B6/B7/B8) event.

logo

The Commonwealth Games is the only international multi-sport event which features an integrated para-sport programme. 2018 will see the largest para-sport programme in the history of the Games.

Helen Phillips, Chair of the Commonwealth Games Wales Board who confirmed the selections, said: "Congratulations to all of the Welsh para-athletes who have been selected to represent Team Wales at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. They have all achieved great results on the international sporting stage, and we look forward to seeing them make Wales proud once again next year. Being chosen for Team Wales is testament to their commitment, passion and dedication and also the excellent support of their coaches, families, Disability Sport Wales and their national governing body."

Disability Sport Wales CEO, Fiona Reid said: "Disability Sport Wales are delighted to see the inclusion of these para-athletes within Team Wales. The Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games will showcase the highest number of para-sport events ever at a Commonwealth Games. I'm absolutely thrilled to see a strong team of para-athletes selected, it shows the strength in the para-athlete development we have in here in Wales

Hazel Wilson, Team Manager for Lawn Bowls in Wales: "I am delighted that Wales Para Bowls have been nominated to take part in the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. It is a fantastic opportunity and I am sure the whole of Wales will be behind the team. We have a really strong squad and, based on their Bronze medal success for both the visually impaired and para teams in a test event on the Commonwealth Games bowling greens earlier this year, Wales has a brilliant chance of medal success."

 

Pembrokeshire Sport Awards.

Jack Lloyd

Pembrokeshire held its annual Sport Awards at Folly Farm on the 14/11/17. Two bowlers were in the running for the Disability Sport Award, Jack Lloyd & Raymond Lillycrop.

Jack recently won a Gold medal at the British Isles Championship in Glasgow & Ray had won a bronze medal at International multi nations Test Event in Australia in June.

It is fantastic to see bowls celebrated so well. Congratulations to Jack who won this award & Ray was runner up. Another triumph in a good year.

Wales Medal Success.

Glasgow Indoor Bowls Club hosted the British Isles visually impaired Bowls championship from 6 to 8 October. This event was marked as one of the final selection events ahead of the Commonwealth Games and so performance was crucial.

Welsh Team Manager John Wilson said " Although we have a much smaller team than England and Scotland, it is a side full of quality bowlers and potential is high. I am confident that we will secure medals and punch well above our weight. The players are contesting for places and will show their quality."

Over the three days of competition, the standard of bowling was very high. Two of our players, Julie Thomas and Jack Lloyd won every one of their games and secured Gold medals. Julie retained her title for the second time and Jack won his first title.

Julie Thomas with Director John Wilson

[Photo: Julie Thomas with Director John Wilson.]

Julie Thomas with Director John Wilson

Wales entered 7 categories for medals and came away with 6. An amazing achievement and certainly sets out the case for many players for possible commonwealth consideration. Wales won:

Gold:
Julie Thomas, Director John Wilson;
Jack Lloyd, Director Geoff John.

Silver:
Allan Jones, Director Byron John;
Sheila Kinch, Director Jamie Jones;
Toby Warren.

Bronze:
Madeline Roberts, Director Ken Watson.

Medal winners

[Photo: Medal winners.]

Medal Winners.

John Wilson, Team Manager said "I am elated by the team performances and bringing home six medals out of seven categories entered. There were some outstanding performances and still more potential. Julie retaining her title is an amazing feat, always harder second time around and new medal winning performances have made me immensely proud of the whole Team. Well done all"

Rotary Triples.

September 24th Sophia Gardens Indoor Bowls Club hosted the Rotary Triples for another year. 10 teams from Gwent to Pembroke gathered to compete in a days competition. It was a well organised day and many thanks to all the volunteer markers who assisted.

West Glam Team of Julie Thomas, Lead (directed by John Wilson), Jonathan Cox and Toby Warren won the title holding on to the trophy for another year. Some great bowling, guys.

Runners up

[Photo: runners up.]

Runners up also from West Glam were Sheila Kinch, Allan Jones, Donna Livoti & Craig Harries with Director Byron John.

Runners up

[Photo: Runners up.]

Looking forward to next year. If you wish to get involved please get in touch.

Summer Success.

The summer season was enjoyed by all our members with tournaments, club competitions and friendlies.

From its early success in May at Weston where once again West Glam proved a strong force to be reckoned with, winning the cup for a second year in a row with Jonathan Cox.

Jonathan Cox wins Weston

[Photo: Jonathan Cox wins Weston.]

Continuing with the Memorial Game at Rhiwbina Bowls Club. Now in its 3rd year, it was once again a fantastic day. The competition was very close and the club put on a marvellous day for all, truly celebrating the spirit of the day. Members from across Wales took part and contributed to the occasion.

Many members are active players in sighted clubs and took part in their club competitions and Toby Warren successfully won the Triples at his club Bryn Road, and was Runner Up in the Singles. Gordon Harries reached the final of his Club Pairs. Well done to both.

County Success:
One of our members Julie Thomas of Port Talbot Ladies reached West Glamorgan County rink finals in her first year of County competitions. The rink then went on to win this title. What a great achievement. Julie played lead against tough (sighted) opposition. Bowls is such an inclusive sport and this should encourage us all.

Port Talbot ladies win County Rink

[Photo: Port Talbot ladies win County Rink.]

Two of our coaches also reached County Rink Finals, John Wilson and Byron John in Carmarthenshire County. Well done both, shows the quality of coaches we have.

Owen Williams won Monmouthshire County Pairs final. Well done.

Gold Coast Test Event

May 31 to June 11 saw quite a remarkable achievement. A multi nations test series was held on the Gold Coast, Australia as part of a qualification event for the Commonwealth Games 2018.
The full Welsh team headed out to participate in this event along with Australia, New Zealand Malaysia, Scotland, England to name but a few.

As part of this event a recently selected and quite newly formed visually impaired and para bowls squad fully supported by Disability Sport Wales headed out to quite unknown territory. This squad, the majority of them having never played at international level before and certainly not on greens of this type and speed were certainly up for the challenge of qualification.

The squad play in two disciplines:
Mixed Pairs ( visually impaired)
Julie Thomas
(Director John Wilson)
Gilbert Miles
( Director Byron John)

Open Triples ( Parabowlers)
Jonathan Hubbard
Raymond Lillycrop
Pauline Wilson

After a very long and tiring journey, there was very little time to adjust to these amazingly fast and challenging surfaces before the competition began. The first few games took a little getting used to but the teams soon got into their stride and began to find their form.

"Securing a bronze medal playoff after the round robin was an amazing achievement, we just needed to really focus and deliver what I know we can" said Team Manager John Wilson. He continues

"The morning of the medal game was exciting and the team performances were extraordinary. The Mixed Pairs (VI) team went up another gear they really found their form and played as I know they can beating New Zealand 24-7. The Triples also tightened up and held their nerve when it mattered to beat England 13-8. Two Bronze medals on an International debut, I am incredibly proud. This is a step closer to Commonwealth Games Qualification.

The trip was undoubtedly a success as medals were obtained. Julie Thomas, was delighted with her medal and felt it showed real potential for the future.
"I was thrilled with how I played against New Zealand to win the bronze medal. It is wonderful to be able to show the coaches and Disability Sport Wales that they are right to believe in us, thank you. I was thrilled to show exactly how I can play, it just took me a bit too long to get there. It has been a really valuable learning experience and I now know what to expect and will be better prepared next time. The place is wonderful and I hopefully look forward to returning in the future"

'Visually-impaired bowls changed my life'

Former headteacher Julie Thomas lost her sight 10 years ago but could now go to the Commonwealth Games.

Thomas represents Wales at visually-impaired bowls and is a two-time Welsh champion.

She told BBC Wales Sport that taking up bowls helped "transform her life" and hopes to represent Wales in para-bowls at next year's Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in Australia. Get the interview here.

The International Blind Bowls Association (IBBA) World Championships.

The International Blind Bowls Association (IBBA) World Championships recently took place at the Western Province Cricket Club in Cape Town, South Africa from 20-28 March 2017.

It was unfortunate that Wales were not able to send a team to contest these championships on this occasion but look forward to being involved in Broadbeach Australia in 2021.

However, this being said Wales Team Manager was delighted that Toby Warren decided to be the sole representative from Wales to participate and stated " I am very proud of Toby for standing up to be counted and this tremendous experience can only benefit him further."

Over 130 players and directors across B1-4 categories were involved. What a great occasion.

The team event was won by South Africa who retained their title from the last World Championships in Worthing, England in 2013, , with Australia second and Israel third.

Toby Warren who competed in the B4 Mens Singles section said on his return "What an amazing experience. I really enjoyed it. The facilities, organisation, greens and hospitality were absolutely brilliant. They could not have done any more for us and the organisers deserve an awful lot of credit for the event that was staged. The standard of bowls was extremely high, definitely World Class and the conditions made it very testing. Some days temperatures exceeded 35 degrees C, whilst on other days conditions were really gusty! It was incredible and I would love to compete in future championships too."

Inter-stadia competition.

Tuesday 11th April saw the first ever VI inter stadia match in Wales. It was held at Dinefwr IBC Ammanford. Four clubs involved in this milestone event showing a clear progression in the growth and development of this VI sport.

Ammanford and Llanelli the more recently established of the four clubs have continued to go from strength to strength and it was wonderful to be able to hold this event for the first time.

Some quality bowling ensued and for some of the newer bowlers it was an opportunity to experience competition for the first time. It may be true to say, some bowlers said they felt nerves, while others revelled in the thrill of competition.

John Wilson, Welsh Team Manager said "I have been delighted by this occasion. The green is full of VI bowlers, all showing why this sport is truly amazing. I have seen real quality as well as emerging potential and I look forward to this becoming a regular event"

The competition was won by West Glamorgan, the winning rink was Julie Thomas, John Wilson ( Director) Allan Jones ( skip) and Donna (a new bowler to West Glam. only having played a few weeks and experiencing her first competition.

Bowls makes the stage of the Disability Sport Wales Awards.

Julie Thomas

Great news that once again Bowls has been highlighted as a successful sport. In a Paralympic year, amongst all the Paralympic sports we as a nation are so successful in - bowls was there by the successful nomination of one of our elite bowlers.

Logo: Disability Sports Wales Awards

Julie Thomas was selected as a finalist for Emerging Athlete of the year at the Disability Sports Awards. Her nomination was well deserved as she has not only won two British Isles titles, she has also achieved selection for the sighted County Team. All this in just over two years. In addition, her nomination stated she goes out of her way to encourage others into the sport and is an excellent role model. Having no sight has not held Julie back. Welsh Team Manager John Wilson states "Julie works very hard and is very dedicated to the sport. She is a very talented bowler and I am very proud of what she already achieved but I know there is still so much more to come."

During the evening, Julie was invited onto the stage to discuss the forthcoming Commonwealth Games with Gerwyn Owen, Deputy Chef de Mission. A positive evening, a great chance for bowls to shine again.

Awards ceremony

Leamington Home Nations

The Home Nations Tournament this year to decide the VI singles champions for the British Isles took place at Royal Leamington Spa. During the week of 12th September there was extremely high quality competition despite searing hot temperatures.

The green facilities were excellent and it was a pleasure to play on them. Despite the fact we had a very small team, Wales achieved four medals from a possible nine so once again a really strong performance.

Gold: Julie Thomas (B2);
Directed by John Wilson.

Silver: Gilbert Miles (B3);
Directed by John Glover.

Bronze: Jonathan Cox (B4);
Directed by Jamie Jones.

Bronze: Jack Lloyd (B1);
Directed by Geoff John.

Julie won all her games to win this title. Her coach John Wilson said "I am delighted at the way Julie played, she now holds both the indoor and outdoor UK titles at the same time, a fantastic achievement and I am very proud of her."

Leamington Spa

Wales played well, demonstrating some superb bowls. At the next indoor tournament, due to the new clubs that have started to play, it is expected that Wales will field a much larger team.

Leamington Spa

The future looks bright. If you have not considered playing bowls and would like to start please get in touch. It is an amazing sport and what ever your level of sight loss this sport is truly accessible.

Leamington Spa

Leamington Spa

Leamington Spa

Welsh pairs.

September 5th saw a Welsh pairs competition held at Coedbach Bowls club, Pontarddulais. It was an opportunity for players across Wales to come together and participate in a pairs competition. Pairs were randomly selected in open category and resulted in two pool sections and then a final. It was especially good to welcome several players from the new clubs of Ammanford and Llanelli.

Welsh Pairs

Winners were Toby Warren( B4) and Val Chard (B4) and the runners up were Julie Thomas (B1) and Gordon Harries (B4)

Julie Thomas featured in Bowls International.

Bowls International article

Bowls International article

Rhiwbina Memorial Game.

Rhwbina Memorial Match

For the second occasion, Rhiwbina Bowls club hosted a memorial game for Meirion Roberts. It was once again a fantastic occasion played in the true spirit of the game. Players from across Wales came together as part of the Welsh visually impaired. Team. Meirion's daughter was lead on the winning rink for the second year running. She said "My dad was a member at this club for many years and there are many friends and colleagues who still play here, it is a wonderful occasion for us to be able to come here and share memories, long may it continue"

Rhiwbina Memorial Match

Rhiwbina Memorial Match

Further pictures are available on

http://www.rhiwbinabowls.co.uk/galleryWAVIB.html

Julie Thomas selected for Ladies (sighted) County Team.

Julie Thomas sporting a County badge

Julie Thomas, current Welsh & UK Champion was recently selected to play for the County of West Glamorgan in the Ladies (sighted) County Team. John Wilson, Welsh Team Manager stated "I am very proud of Julie and the way she plays. This is a ground breaking achievement and I have no doubt she will continue to be successful."

Julie in the Newspaper

Wales Para Bowls Team.

The newly formed Para team are already punching above their weight, according to John Wilson as they secure second in recent Home Nations Championships. For many players this was their first experience of an international tournament and they did themselves and Wales proud.

Weather conditions were very challenging with bitter winds and really cold temperatures, but Wales rose to the challenge. Looking forward to 2017 when Wales will host the next Championships March/April (indoors).

Glasgow para bowls

Glasgow para bowls

Para Bowls Home Nations Championship 2016.

The 2016 Para Bowls Home Nations Championships are approaching and Scottish Disability Sport are looking forward to welcoming some of the best Para bowls players to Kelvingrove Lawn Bowls centre in Glasgow on the weekend of 9th of June through to 12th June.

3 nations are competing at this event, Wales, England and Scotland.

Competition Programme involves three teams from each country, a VI Team consisting of five players and 2 teams of physically disabled bowlers (10 players). The disciplines will involve singles, pairs, triples and rinks, please see below:

Friday 10th June
12:00 onwards​Training on greens
13:30​Welcome
14:00 ​1st session
16:45 ​2nd session

Saturday 11th June
09:30​1st session
13:00​2nd session
15:45 ​3rd session

Sunday 12th June
10:00​Final session
13:00​Closing Ceremony

Team Selection:
Team Manager:​John Wilson

VI Team​

Julie Thomas​
Alan Jones​
Gilbert Miles
Toby Warren​
Jack Lloyd​

Physically Disabled Team

Jonathan Williams​
Jonathan Hubbard​
Pauline Wilson​
Damian Hallett​
Raymond Lillycrop​
Dave Powell
Erica Price
Ben Hopkin​
Kevin Woolmore​
Barbara Woolmore​

Wales will be sending a full team and results, photos & updates will follow.

Weston-Super-Mare Tournament.

West Glamorgan team

Wednesday 4th May saw many of our members heading down to Weston-super-Mare to take part in a Bowls tournament at Clarence Park Bowling Green. West Glamorgan were well represented with a minibus of 11 people and there were also a small group from Cardiff.

The tournament is divided into two sections, A B1 section and an OPEN category for all other players. The tournament takes place over four days and there are many games to play. It is a fantastic venue and a great way to start the outdoor season.

The weather was very kind in fact it was extremely hot and sunny. This added to the great atmosphere and must have inspired West Glamorgan to really play well.

Julie and Gilbert

After a tough four days of competition, with players coming from all over the UK to compete , West Glamorgan took many of the honours. Gilbert Miles (B2) won the overall cup, Julie Thomas (B1) won the salver for best lady in the open category and Gordon Harries (B4) came third.

Mike Price from Cardiff also placed third in the B1 category.

Julie, Gilbert and Gordon

John Wilson, the Welsh team manager was delighted with the performance of the Welsh players. He said, "there were some outstanding performances during the four days and this was reflected in the success of the players. I am very proud of what they have achieved and certainly put Wales on the map. This is a great start to the season and look forward to continued success"

The players were delighted with their performances and look forward to returning to this tournament next year.

Para bowls development day.

On Saturday 2nd April a Para Bowls Development Day was held in Llandrindod Wells. John Wilson in partnership with Disability Sport Wales had identified that although there have been successes, it was still apparent that large numbers of vision impaired persons residing within our cities, towns, and rural communities have no access to Bowls. It was also determined that the pathway / structure for disabled bowlers could be strengthened to include greater competitive opportunities. As a result the 'open day' for "pan-ability" individuals marked the way forward for existing bowlers, and also as a means for attracting new players to the sport of Bowls.

What a day it turned out to be. It was a resounding success, proving beyond doubt that there is a real appetite and need for this with more than one hundred persons including players coaches and volunteers attending. All six rinks were full from 11am to 3pm, people were enjoying themselves so much they did not want to come off the green. The hospitality shown to us by the club at Llandrindod was second to none.

taking part in the bowls development day

John Wilson said "It was for me personally a heartwarming occasion that has given me further inspiration to ensure that Bowls is inclusive and available at the majority of bowling clubs throughout Wales. Disability Sport Wales are being very supportive, they have proven to me that they are truly committed to transforming peoples lives through the power of sport."

Moving forward there are plans to repeat this event outdoors in a different venue due to its incredible success. What an amazing day. Following the second event, selections will be made for a Parabowls Test Series in Glasgow in June involving both Visually Impaired and Disabled Bowlers.

With all these great opportunities and exciting developments ahead John Wilson, Welsh Team Manager said of the day "I discovered a number of talented players, previously unknown to myself who are very capable of representing Wales in the future, one of whom is a nine year old boy. Everyone attending the event thoroughly enjoyed the special day, there were indeed very many compliments stating they felt inspired and enthused to participate in the sport from now on. It is my intention to ensure there are opportunities for them to do just that!"

Transforming Lives Award

Many congratulations to John Wilson, Team Manager of the Welsh Association for Vision Impaired Bowlers (WAVIB), who has been named 'Coach of the Year to Disabled People' in the Wales Sport Awards. These annual awards are organised by Sport Wales and BBC Wales to showcase the very best of elite and grassroots sport in Wales.

A great video is now online at youtube.

Another write up is on the BBC's website.

Coach nominated for Welsh Sport Awards.

John Wilson, our Team Manager, has been nominated for the Welsh Sport Awards and he has reached the final, one of 3. This is an amazing achievement and thoroughly deserved for all his dedication and commitment.

Here's the story of our inspirational finalist John Wilson:

https://t.co/fjaRXRS5Zk?ssr=true

He has also reached the final 3 of the UK Coach Awards and will be attending a Black tie presentation in Manchester in December to celebrate this achievement.

John coaching a player

Julie's success story.

Julie Thomas tells listeners to Insight Radio of her success. [Interview audio file].

Welsh success in UK Singles.

From the 7 th to 10th September 2015 Wales competed in the UK VI singles championships held in Nottingham against a very strong English and Scottish team consisting of several current World champions.

Wales are a small team but full of determined and exciting talent and enjoyed its best ever results at these championships with a total of seven medals & our highest ever points tally. We entered 7 classifications and medalled in each one. We achieved a Gold, 3 silver and 3 Bronze. What an amazing week.

Welsh team

Our Medal winners are:

Gold
Julie Thomas (B2)

Silver
Sheila Kinch (B3)
Jack Lloyd (B1)
Alan Jones (B3)

Bronze
Madeleine Roberts (B4)
Jonathan Cox (B4)
Gilbert Miles (B2)

John Wilson, Welsh Team Manager said "I was very proud to be their manager at Nottingham. Disability Sport Wales have committed to investing in VI Bowls and this has really shown at this tournament. As a team this is our best result yet and shows how we are moving forward

To have won medals in every category is outstanding with the icing on the cake being a Gold medal in Ladies ( B2) " sighted" competition by Julie Thomas. She is now the Welsh & UK Champion , an amazing result for a lady who has no sight at all ! I am a very proud coach and Manager"

As a country, we have really done well but always need more bowlers, if you would like to join our medal winners, you need to give it a go please contact Sheila our WAVIB secretary 02920 400897 to find out your nearest club, sight loss is not a barrier to playing VI bowls.

 

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