30 August 2023

South Coast Special Olympians bowl over state competition

| Katrina Condie
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Two ladies with medals

Alisha Tetley and Liz Godwin took home bronze in the doubles. Photo: SO South Coast.

South Coast Special Olympics Club chair Kathy Godwin says she doesn’t have the words to describe the “magic that happens” when 200 people with an intellectual disability “compete for sheep stations” at a state level.

Twelve members of the club returned from the New South Wales Tenpin Bowling Championships with an astonishing eight medals between them: three gold, one silver and four bronze.

Kathy said the atmosphere was incredible and everyone was “out to win”, but with great sportsmanship.

“As I keep saying to everyone, it’s awe-inspiring,” she said.

“These athletes all know what they’re doing. They are focused, engaged and competitive but, above all, kind to each other.

“Even after years of being with Special Olympics, I’m invariably moved by the kindness and sportsmanship shown by these athletes.”

About 200 competitors from 12 regions around the state took part in the championships at Campbelltown City Bowl on the weekend of 20-21 August.

South Coast bowlers Amy Foot and Alisha Tetley, playing in her first competition, brought home singles gold in their respective divisions.

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Steve Malmo, contesting his first state competition, took home silver, while Liz Godwin and Cameron Banson each took home a bronze medal.

In the doubles, Amy Foot and Hayley Badenoch won gold, while the teams of Steve Malmo and Cameron Banson, along with Alisha Tetley and Liz Godwin, scored a bronze.

“We might be a small club, but our guys do our region proud,” Kathy said.

The competition is organised so that each person plays against another of his or her own ability, whether they are experienced bowlers or new to the game.

“These guys were only able to get to these competitions and so achieve these outstanding results due to the dedication of the volunteers and the local community who has supported us,” Kathy said.

“It’s truly inspiring and heart-warming to be with this group of athletes giving their best, not on a nationwide scale but significant nonetheless. And it’s incredibly meaningful in the lives of the athletes and all those supporting them.”

Everyone who took part in the competition was a winner, receiving a ribbon for their efforts.

Kathy said the Special Olympics events gave every athlete with an intellectual disability a level playing field, whatever that level was.

“Like all marginalised groups in our society, there is rarely a chance to be ‘the best’, or even know that there’s a chance of achieving,” she said.

“Because Special Olympics offers regional and state competitions in many sports, people get a chance to meet new friends, travel, develop independence, teamwork, acceptance of difference … the list is endless.

“It’s also like a family, a big, diverse family. Parents, carers and volunteers know that this family has often travelled a similar path, and that’s also priceless.”

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She said competing gave athletes “a chance to shine and be recognised” and to play a sport they loved.

“It’s a chance to catch up with friends and acquaintances across the state, and a chance to adapt. Many people with disabilities live very routine-oriented lives and coming to these events certainly isn’t routine.

“It provides athletes with a chance to control emotions in a highly supportive environment. There is always disappointment when you don’t win, but the athletes are supported to understand and cope and, in our club’s case, all our athletes ended up being proud of whatever they won.”

Special Olympics South Coast will host a regional tenpin bowling competition in Ulladulla on 12 October.

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