Walker hails para players' equal treatment

The Omakau Club's Pam Walker has been selected as one of three women in the Para team for this...
The Omakau Club's Pam Walker has been selected as one of three women in the Para team for this month's Bowls3Five event. PHOTO: ADAM BURNS
Pam Walker is not one to boast. She prefers to let her bowls game do the talking.

It is an approach which works for the Central Otago competitor who has quietly gone about her business during a 12-year playing career.

In the next few weeks she will compete against some of the country's leading exponents of the sport.

Walker is one of three women selected for the Parajacks team for the high-tempo Bowls3Five event.

Dunedin veteran Carolyn Crawford, of the St Clair club, will also line up in the eight-strong squad alongside Glasgow Commonwealth Games silver medallist Lynda Bennett.

The Parajacks will compete against seven club teams from around the country in the second edition of the televised event to be played at Auckland's New Lynn Bowling Club.

The event will feature such decorated names as Kiwi internationals Gary Lawson and Shannon McIlroy.

Considering certain perceptions of para teams still existed, the Parajacks' inclusion in the tournament was important, Walker said.

"We're on an equal playing field with able-bodied [teams]. There's no special treatment whatsoever.''

Bowls New Zealand had been instrumental in pushing for further opportunities for para bowlers in recent times, Walker said.

For the first time, a para category had been added to the 2020 national singles and pairs in Christchurch.

Worthy of her spot in the team facing able-bodied competitors, her career is undoubtedly not without challenge.

Walker suffers from ankylosing spondylitis, a form of inflammatory arthritis that affects the spine and sacroiliac joints.

"I can't bend my neck. It affects my delivery. I can't see the end of my delivery ... I deliver blind, basically.''

It has not slowed her rise in the sport.

Previously a member of Dunedin's Taieri Bowling Club, the Lauder-based competitor now operates out of the Omakau Bowling Club where she has won 10 club titles in three years.

She won every title on offer at the Omakau club last year during a dominant season and has been a Central Otago representative for the past two years.

The Parajacks line-up will also include Gold Coast Commonwealth Games silver medallists Barry Wynks, Bruce Wakefield and Mark Noble.

The event will run from October 23 to December 11.


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