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Bowls In Focus : November 2009
10 Bowls In Focus Inever had the pleasure Dot Jenkinson, the leg bowler from the rural Su of Red Cliffs, but over th years of travelling to the annual pairs event name our, I have heard dozens about the great lady. First and foremost she was one of the greatest players Australia has ever produced, a world champion; she was an inspiration to aspiring people from small communities; a champion of the underdog; and she had a great sense of fun. Dot would have enjoyed the fact that two fellow world champions, Gordana Baric and Joyce Lindores, have their names engraved on her event's exalted trophy; and equally thrilled that Amy Roberts and Melva Matthews, who won in 2007, came from Korong Vale, a club with just a dozen or so members. It was a similar scenario last month, and the close-knit community of Wycheproof would have been delighted, when news came through that four of their town's thirteen registered lady bowlers had reached the finals of the Dot Jenkinson Pairs Classic, one of the most prestigious events on the Australian bowls calendar. And it was even more elated to later discover that the combination of club champion Nannette Birthisel and secretary Val White had emerged victorious in the final at Mildura Bowls Club, while Jeannie Grylls and Betty Taylor lost out in the quarter finals, but only by a shot. Around Victoria's wheat producing Mallee Region you have to be made of the right stuff just to get along. City people would probably describe it as hot, dusty and forbidding, but the locals love it. Heck, for fun they run a 'King of the Mountain' event at Wycheproof, where the fellas race a kilometre up the town's landmark carrying a bag of the area's finest. They're a hardy mob, legend has it a boy doesn't be- come a man until he can drop kick a sack of spuds across the main street. Perhaps this explains Nannette's feats - she has won Wycheproof's club singles an astounding 20 times and has umpteen other credits to her name. For certain there are several other fine lady bowlers whose names appear on honour boards more than Nannette's. Lorraine Steel from Yal- lourn has won about 40 and she's still going strong. However, what sets Nannette apart is how she has accomplished all of this with just one arm. She first took to the green in 1976; six years after having her left arm amputated, and found, like all new chums, that she loved it. Just five years later she won the first of her club singles, her associa- tion title and reached the final eight in the country championship. Between 1991 and 2001 she captured Wycheproof's club singles ten times in succession. But it wasn't until September 1990 that Nannette first became involved in disabled competitions, when she un- packed her bowls at Caulfield Central RSL, the start of a remarkable run of successes. She qualified for the 1997 national championships after a stunning per- formance at Korumburra in 1996, and streeted the field at Somerton (SA) to win the Australian singles title. That performance gained her a place in the national team to compete in the next ISOD (International Sport- ing Organisation for the Disabled) World Championships, held at Rose- hill (NSW), where she won medals in three events, including a bronze in the open singles where she was the only female competitor. She retained her national singles title at Rydalmere in 1999 and added • Above: This year's winners Nan- nette Birthisel and Val White with the imposing 'DJ' trophy. • Right: Successful lead Val White during the main event. • Left: Golden Square's Patti Pain made it to the final four. • Opposite Page: Robyn Conn from Apollo Bay partnered state player Nicole Shortis into the semi finals. Classic win to Wycheproof wonders