Blind bowler dominates scene

Living legend prepares for nationals

SIENA YATES
Last updated 11:27 21/11/2012
Danny Simon
Ben Curran/Fairfax NZ

GREEN KING: Local blind lawn bowling legend Danny Simon has been busy on the green in preparation for the national competition next week.

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Bowls is hardly an easy game at the best of times, but try playing it blindfolded and relying solely on someone else's directions.  

That is what Danny Simon has mastered doing and helped him dominate the New Zealand bowling scene for the last 28 years.  

In 1984, he co-founded the New Zealand Blind Lawn Bowling Association and has finished in the top three in every blind nationals competition since then.

Now, with this year's nationals bringing in the competition from around the country, Mr Simon is practicing daily, and fairly confident of a win, despite playing against bowlers with more sight than himself.

''I play against sighted [bowlers] and still beat them,'' he laughed.

Essential to his success is Mr Simon's sighted ''director'', Shirley Houghton, who has been with him throughout his bowling career.  

She acts as the eyes of the operation, describing the shot, green, positions, angles and wind so Mr Simon can make the perfect shot.  

''We do everything but bowl the ball,'' she joked.  ''No, he's a very good bowler. Sometimes people say, 'you're not even blind', just because he plays so well.''

Together the pair have travelled the world to play the game they love, landing world championship medals in Australia and Canada, and and England is next on the list in 2013.

The world championship team will be selected and announced at the national championship prizegiving next Thursday, and the pair are confident they can make it onto the list.

 ''We know each other, what the other is thinking, when they're falling, and when they're not. We know when to be serious and when not. He's just like a big brother to me,'' said Mrs Houghton.

The Blind Lawn Bowling National Championship is on at the Hillcrest Bowling Club, November 26 - 30, and public are welcome to go along and watch.

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- Waikato

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