Disability leads Nel to games in Scotland

ON MAT: Partially-sighted bowler Gwen Nel and her coach Geoff Newcombe. Picture: FREDLIN ADRIAAN
ON MAT: Partially-sighted bowler Gwen Nel and her coach Geoff Newcombe. Picture: FREDLIN ADRIAAN

PARTIALLY-sighted Port Elizabeth lawn bowler Gwen Nel will fly the South African flag at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next month.

Nel, along with assistant Geoffrey Newcombe, will travel with the squad as part of the para-bowling team to compete against some of the best disabled bowling talent the world has to offer.

Nel will compete in the mixed pairs category alongside B3 bowler, Herman Scholtz, and his assistant Joanna van Rooyen. This will be the first time the pair will compete together at the Commonwealth Games.

Nel has been partially blind for the better part of 50 years, however this has not dampened her spirit and enthusiasm. She has been involved in bowls for 40 years and has represented the country at countless events both nationally and internationally.

According to Nel, her proudest career moment came when she was selected as part of the 187 athletes’ squad to attend the Games in Scotland.

Newcombe said the greens they would be playing on in Scotland were much heavier than the ones they use to practise on.

“We are practising here at PE Bowling Club to get her lines correct and get her centred on the mat,” Newcombe said.

Nel has represented SA a number of times on the international arena, winning nine gold medals in the process. She has also won the South African Singles competition no less than 17 times during the course of her career. Nel has also won the SA Masters title nine times.

Among the other most notable accolades Nel has picked up during her career are being named sports star of the year for the Eastern Cape, as well as a silver medal for outstanding achievement in bowls.

Nel believes her disability has had a positive effect on her life.

“Its only done me proud,” Nel said. “I’ve been all over the world and my disability has taken me there.” – Amir Chetty

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