Champ takes place on team
She may lack vision but Suzie Tukariri has no problems seeing clearly on the bowling green.
The mother of three from Te Atatu Peninsula has been selected for the New Zealand Blind Jacks lawn bowls side for the world championships in England in July.
After a resounding performance at the New Zealand Blind Lawn Bowling Association Championships in Hamilton last month, Tukariri, 48, won the B3 and B4 combined pairs and was runner up in the B3 singles.
"I played indoor bowls for over 25 years and wanted a bit more of a challenge," Tukariri says.
"A friend of mine introduced me to the game only a year ago.
"I really enjoy it but I never expected I'd make the New Zealand side, it was a real surprise."
Tukariri was born with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative disease which has left her partially blind, putting her in the B3 category for the sport.
"Sometimes it's a bit distracting on the green.
"My vision is more long-sighted but everything is blurry.
"But I don't let that stop me."
Tukariri is a member of the Browns Bay Bowling Club, the home of blind lawn bowls in Auckland.
Tukariri's husband, Haare, and Browns Bay Bowling Club president Bernie Yeo share the driving duties to get her to training three times a week.
Blind bowlers have a director, or guide, on and off the green.
Tukariri's two directors, Lin East and Anne Eastern of Browns Bay Bowling Club, more commonly referred to as the "Eastie Beasties", have helped her fine tune her game.
"At the nationals in Hamilton, Suzie played as good as what I can, and I've been playing for a while," says Eastern.
New Zealand manager Kevin Smith, who is a director himself, says selecting Tukariri was a no-brainer.
"She's taken to lawn bowls like a duck to water.
"We've had an average run at the world champs in the past but we're striving to make our side the best prepared at the tournament.
Smith stresses that trust, instinct and direction is the recipe for success when it comes to blind bowls.
"The relationship between the player and director is so important and one of total trust.
"The director is the information for the bowler to make the decision on their delivery, that's pretty much all they have to go on."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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