Bowler’s win the bee’s knees: WA Disabled Sports Association

Blind bowler Graham McLean. Picture: Martin Kennealey           d444412
Blind bowler Graham McLean. Picture: Martin Kennealey         d444412

VISION impaired lawn bowler Graham McLean had a run of good luck at the recent WA Disabled Sports Association’s (WADSA) awards night just months after a bee sting on the green saw him rushed to hospital.

McLean (75) received a Lawn Bowls Championships (male division) award at WDSA’s September 24 ceremony and joined fellow bowlers of the Vision Impaired and Blind Bowlers of WA (VIBBWA) Australian Championship Team to accept 2015 Team of the Year.

“It felt very good… when you’re bowling against younger people it makes you feel younger too and being the age of 75, things don’t come too often at our age,” he said.

Things didn’t go as well during a national competition in Adelaide though, when he collapsed after being stung on his finger.

“I picked up a bowl and I said to my director ‘pull that sting out will you’,” McLean said. “Within two minutes I was itching and scratching the back of my neck and ear. We changed over ends and I said to my group ‘I’ve got to go up to the clubhouse, I’m very thirsty’; I got halfway up, collapsed and that was it.” McLean was taken to the emergency department where he was monitored overnight.

“They said if you get a second reaction it’s worse than the first one so that’s why they held me for 24 hours,” he said.

“I didn’t think I was allergic to bees because when we were kids we used to get stung but within half an hour I was unconscious. We think when you get older the resistance drops a bit so now I’ve just finished a course of weekly needles and I’m doing monthly ones until June next year. I’ve got to carry an EpiPen with me wherever I go.”

McLean began playing in 1999 after losing most of his vision because of problems with blood supply to the back of his eyes.

“Now it’s just like looking through a curtain, you can see a bit but you can’t tell distance and things like that,” he said.

“I was a stainless steel welding specialist and then I found I was losing my sight and they just said ‘you can’t drive, you can’t work, goodbye’ so I thought, well I’ve got to do something.

“You have a director to tell you how far the jack is away from you. It’s like throwing a tennis ball; you can throw a tennis ball 10, 20 or 30 feet. It’s just a pressure on your arm bowling it out.”

He plays at Perth and Tattersalls Bowling and Recreation Club on Wednesdays and the Warwick Bowling Club on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

For more about VIBBWA, call secretary Dawn Hillman on 0412 891 098.