Gold medals for Israeli blind bowlers

April 9, 2015 by Keren Cook
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Israeli blind bowlers have won five medals at an international world championship competition held recently in the New Zealand Capital. Wellington.

The Israeli team at the opening ceremony

The Israeli team at the opening ceremony

The International Bowls for the Disabled World Champs 2015 event took place in Wellington this year and was supported by the Hutt City Council.

The Hutt bowling Club and Naenae Bowling Club hosted the event between 16th and 27th February and other local clubs hosted competitors.

Operations Manager Trevor McCornish from New Zealand said: “The conditions were excellent, we only lost one hour over the two weeks due to weather.

“South Africa were the overall winners but the Israeli players also won two gold and three bronze medals.”

Since 1987, Israeli adults with visual disabilities have enjoyed lawn bowls – an outdoor sport played with a one-kilo ball aimed at a target.

“Among sports for the blind, lawn bowls has the largest number of participants in Israel,” says Sarah Shapiro, a retired immunology researcher from Haifa who managed the Israeli Lawn Bowls Association national team since 2003.

Shapiro has just completed a six-year term as president of the Israel Association for the Blind. The players are paired with sight coaches, approximately 50 players meet every Sunday at lawn bowls clubs in Haifa, Ra’anana, Ramat Gan and Kiryat Ono.

This year Sharon Ashtar from Hadera won a gold medal in women’s singles. The 40-year-old mother of two, coached by Lola Skikne, lost her eyesight gradually due to a genetic condition and is now completely blind.

Another women’s singles gold, in a different category according to visual ability, was captured by Jaklin Shukrun, 57, a partially sighted Netanya resident coached by Bernard Cuikermann.

Bronze medals were earned by Ramy Hershkovitch (coached by David Mausher) and Eliyahu Mitrani (Chaia Prager) in men’s singles; and Mitrani and Nava Muzafi (Jacqueline Lieberthal) in mixed pairs.

The other teammates were Rachel Buchnik (coached by Rachel Golan), Itzik Baranes (Miriam Goldfarb) and Simon Karpman (Boris Gliner).

“The Australian and English teams have more than 200 bowlers, and the fact that we consistently win medals is to the credit of our bowlers and volunteers,” says Shapiro.

Despite their small contingent, the Israelis continue to perform in the competitive bowling arena.

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