Games rookie Sue Curran claims special honour

GOLDEN OLDIE: Susan Curran is New Zealand's oldest competitor in Glasgow.
GOLDEN OLDIE: Susan Curran is New Zealand's oldest competitor in Glasgow.

A lawn bowls rookie has set a new mark as New Zealand's oldest Commonwealth Games competitor.

Hamilton's Susan Curran, 67, began her competition in the B2/B3 partially sighted mixed pairs event in Glasgow yesterday with team-mate David Stallard.

She takes the record from fellow lawn bowler John Davies, who was 60 when he competed in the 2002 Games in Manchester.

But Curran is a true newcomer to the sport. "Three years ago, I hadn't had an outdoor bowl in my hand," she said.

Curran started playing September 2011, after playing indoor bowls, and made rapid strides.

"I'd only had two games when I went to the blind lawn bowls nationals in Brown's Bay and I got selected to make the development squad for the Blind Jacks."

She quickly graduated to the full team for the blind lawn bowls world championships in Worthing, England last year.

"I had to play up a division last year, and came home with a silver and a bronze. This year I am in the division I'm supposed to be in, and am keen to do very well."

Curran has impaired vision, putting her in the B3 category.

"I can't see the far end of the bowling green. I have a little bit of peripheral vision but I don't have long-distance vision, and what vision I do have is very blurry - I don't recognise faces very well."

When not standing on the mat ready to bowl, she uses a monocular to help her gauge distances, then teams up with her director Christine Foster, who stands behind her, for deliveries.

"She initially stood in front, but she had to jump so many times to get out of the way," Curran laughed.

"She will give me the green and let me know where the other bowls are by the clock system, and I just have to work out the weight when I send the bowl down.

"If I go too wide or too narrow, or need to put weight on or take it off, I just have to make adjustments from the previous bowl."

Curran teamed up with Foster through indoor bowls in Hamilton.

"I'd been playing blind indoor bowls, and met Christine there. She took me to the first indoor nationals and then said she'd take me for outdoor bowls.

"My stepfather [John Reid] was also a massive influence. He persuaded me - and now, here I am."

But being in Glasgow just to compete won't satisfy Curran.

"I'm very keen to come home with a medal at the least - a gold if we can."

Waikato Times