Canadians Compete in their First International Bowls for the Disabled (IBD) World Championships in South Africa

Five Canadians (including three para-athletes, one performance partner, and one coach) travelled to Johannesburg, South Africa to participate in the 5th IBD World Championships. While it is the 5th year for Championships, Bowls Canada Boulingrin was excited to showcase the inaugural Para Bowls National Squad and their first competition on the international stage.

Don Caswell, High Performance Manager, looks forward to their return and learning from the first international event attended by our Squad. “Participation in the IBD World Championships was a giant step forward for our High-Performance Para program. It was a learning experience from day one for our athletes and coach. I can’t wait to hear about their experience firsthand.”

The 2024 IBD World Championship was co-hosted by Ekurhuleni Bowls, Physically Disabled Bowlers of South Africa (PDBSA), and Visually Impaired Bowlers of South Africa (VIBSA) and took place from May 18th to May 31st, 2024. A total of 10 nations participated in the Championships across 5 different disciplines, including Men’s singles, Women’s singles, Mixed pairs, Men’s pairs, and Women’s pairs.

Para Bowls is played by individuals who have a vision impairment or a physical disability, usually due to birth defects, diseases, surgery or injury, that affects movement. To ensure fairness, para bowlers are classified by degree of disability of visual impairment (classified from B1 to B4) or physical impairment (Classified as B5 to B8).

The competition kicked off with the opening ceremonies on Saturday, May 18th, and the first day of competition starting May 19th. In the first week, Andy Caldwell (ON) and Jack Smart (AB) played as a pair in the B7 men’s pairs disciple against countries such as England, Malaysia, Scotland, South Africa, and Thailand. They were able to win 5 games out of 10 games in toward, awarding them 4th place in their competitive section. Unfortunately, they did not advance to the medal rounds but had a great showing for their first event together.  Louise McLean (ON) and performance partner Lianne Franklin (ON) were partnered with Grant v Eyssen of South Africa playing Hong Kong, Malaysia, and South Africa in the B1/B2 Mixed Pairs event. This mixed pairs team had never previously played together and only met when in South Africa – and had a steep learning curve ahead. They were elated when they won a game in their sectional round. However, earned fourth place from a total of 5 losses.

The following week, with sectional play starting on May 25th, all Canadian para-athletes competed in singles disciplines. Andy Caldwell faced off fellow B7 para athletes from England, Malaysia, South Africa, and Hong Kong in the Men’s Singles, while Jack Smart played against Thailand, Hong Kong, and two South African players in the B6 Classified games. Caldwell’s competition was steep as he just missed advancing to the medal round with 3 wins and 4 losses resulting in third place. Smart ended sectional rounds placing fourth (1 win, 4 losses). Louise McLean along with Lianne Franklin competed in the B2 Women’s singles event vis a vis English, Malaysian, and South African players. The duo finished 3rd in their discipline (1 win, 5 losses), which  afford them a surprise bronze medal as they did not compete in the medal rounds.

Pat Vos, coach traveling and supporting the para athletes, say,Its been a long grueling three weeks. Our athletes have all experienced success here at various levels. They all proved they can play against the best.”

All information, updates, and results regarding the 2023 IBD World Championships can be found on BCB’s website here: https://bowlscanada.com/en/events-results/international-events/ibd/

Bowls Canada would like to thank Sport Canada and the Department of Canadian Heritage for funding in our Para Bowls High Performance program. Additionally, we would like to thank the bowls community and our donors for their financial support during the Giving Tuesday campaign and Back our Bowlers campaign. This program and international competition opportunity would not be possible without all their generosity.

For more information, please contact Samantha Burelle, Safe Sport and Communications Coordinator, at sburelle@bowlscanada.com.

About Bowls Canada (BCB)

Bowls Canada is the national governing body for the sport of lawn bowls. Our mission is to provide leadership that facilitates inclusive lawn bowls in Canada. For more details on Bowls Canada Boulingrin and the sport of lawn bowls, visit www.bowlscanada.com.