This year’s annual Home Countries Wheelchair Bowls Championships were held in Wales by hosts the Welsh Paraplegic and Tetraplegic Sports Association. The Championships were put together with the help of the Presenting Partner ‘Mon Motors Group’ and was supported by Disability Sport Wales and Village Hotels. The venue was the picturesque Sully IBC overlooking the Severn estuary.
The absence of Northern Ireland for a second successive year meant the Championships were a tri-nations with England defending the title they snatched in 2009 at the last minute in Stoke Mandeville.
The English made just two changes which saw the return of Jane Blackburn and debutant Mike Diston coming in for Roger Wilton. The Welsh had a couple of returnees too : notably, Gareth Stokes and Ray Simpson. The Scots came with the minimum number of bowlers and gave a debut to Rosemary Lenton who has had success with wheelchair curling north of the border. Given the size of their team all the Scots bowlers would be busy.
To set the scene for you : The event is played by ‘para’ bowlers who play with conventional woods and play singles, pairs and triples; and by ‘tetra’ bowlers who play singles and pairs but with smaller woods over a shorter distance. Tetras do this as they have more limited hand movement than paras. Play takes place over two days on a ‘Ryder Cup’ format – two points for win and one for a draw.
England got off to a poor start in the first session taking only two points out of a possible eight, though two of these defeats were by only one shot. Wales took four points. The Scots, however, had the best start with a very welcome three wins out of four. But to underline the competitive nature of the event all these three wins were achieved by a one point margin.
The second session did not see any great improvement for the English with just another single win. There was similarly poor session for the Scots who could not maintain their earlier momentum and also took only one win.
There were smiles all around for the Welsh though who took four wins out of five to take them to twelve points and see England languishing on only four and in danger of being cast adrift.
So the final session of the day would be important. Wales stumbled to just one win and the Scottish hiccup continued as they failed to register a single point. England must have played their get-out-of-jail card as they took four wins out of four to drag themselves back into contention.
At the end of Day One the scores were: –
Wales 14 points
England 12 points
Scotland 8 points