Manawatu duo relish revenge
Manawatu's Mark Noble and Barry Wynks have extra motivation when they play for the New Zealand Para Sport team at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
They want to right the wrongs done to the disabled team at the 2002 Manchester Games of which Wynks was a part.
There, Manawatu bowler John Davies was sent home in disgrace after he sexually harassed a volunteer.
The New Zealand team couldn't carry on without him and it rankled with Wynks that they got to play just one game.
Noble wasn't there but he knows all about it and feels winning a medal at Glasgow in July-August will be the only compensation.
Until 18 months ago Wynks wasn't even going to make himself available for the team trials, so angry had he been at what happened at Manchester.
But his wife Linda intervened. "She tried to make sense out of it all and told me to get over it," he said.
Wynks, 61, acquiesced and will be the only man to play at the two Commonwealth Games which have featured disabled bowls.
"It will be good to have another opportunity," he said.
For 51-year-old Noble it will be his first Games. However, he plays chess to an international level, as New Zealand's only correspondence grand master, and knows how much preparation is required for international competition.
He estimates they will have to put in a minimum of 20 hours practice a week at the specially-prepared slow green at the Takaro Bowling Club.
Noble plans to practice every morning at Takaro, on the weekends there with Wynks and they hope the third team member, Lynda Bennett (Waikato) will be able to get down to join them. Bennett lost her left arm to gangrene despite undergoing 20 operations after a car accident in 1989.
Another who will use the green is men's team player Blake Signal because there isn't a slow green in Wellington.
Manawatu's former international Sharon Sims is coaching Noble and Wynks for the Games and mentor and manager Peter Belliss isn't far away in Wanganui.
"It will be good to get a medal, but we're dreaming if we think it's going to be easy," Noble said. "Hopefully we can; there is no reason why we can't."
Noble and Wynks virtually knew some time ago they were in the team after beating the Australians at Traralgon, near Melbourne, in February.
"Obviously this is the chance of a lifetime as a bowler," Noble said. "For Para Sports it has hardly ever happened."
There will be about eight Para Sport teams at Glasgow, with home team Scotland likely to be the favourites on their own greens.
They won the Eight Nations tournament ahead of South Africa and Australia - New Zealand wasn't there.
The best Australia player, a state skip, wasn't at the Eight Nations either, but the Kiwis beat the team with him in Melbourne.
Wynks and Noble play at the equivalent level in New Zealand for Manawatu. They won gold in the triples at the 2003 world disabled games in Christchurch and Noble won bronze in the pairs with Peter Horne. Noble also has 19 centre titles and a national title.