Blind bowler is world champion

Sarah Marshall Gallery watches v Israel
Sarah Marshall Gallery watches v Israel
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A Berkhamsted bowler didn’t need the run of the green when she travelled 8,500 miles to lift the World Blind Bowls Championships.

Sarah Marshall, who is a member of Berkhamsted Bowls Club, won the B1 class alongside her director on the green Linda Ralphs.

And the tournament in Cape Town, South Africa, saw her defeat competitors from all corners of the globe.

Club president Kevin Clarke told the Gazette: “We’re so proud. And what makes it even more special is that Sarah wouldn’t have even got to South Africa if it hadn’t been for all the support of people who helped raise money for her to travel to the competition.

“There were people from our club, from other clubs, and from other associations, who all raised £3,500 because there isn’t any funding for the competitors.”

Sarah added: “Without my team of Linda, the club captain Brian Ralphs, and everyone else’s generosity. I couldn’t have achieved this.

“I thank them all.”

Over the course of a week and a half Sarah stayed cool in soaring temperatures, beating Australian and Scottish competition 21-4 in the first two matches.

She then staged a magnificent recovery to draw 18-18 against the South African title holder after being 17-12 down.

In her fourth match she defeated the Ireland player 21-2, meaning victory in her last match against a very talented Israeli player would see her lift the trophy.

At 14-4 down Sarah could have been facing a burned end – but instead she came back for a memorable 19-16 triumph.

Sarah has been blind for nine years, and only took up bowls after losing her sight.

She initially played indoor ‘short mat’ before she started playing outdoors, and won her first team tournament in June 2009.

Since then she has won the singles title at the Visually Impaired Bowls England (VIBE) Championships, claimed silver at the World Bowling Championships, and became the first blind person to represent Herts in a sighted event.

The new bowls season at Berkhamsted starts on April 22 and Berkhamsted Bowls Club hope that Sarah’s success will inspire the public to try their hands, too.

Open days will take place at Berkhamsted Bowls Club on the weekend of April 29-30. The event runs from 10am-1pm on the Saturday, and 1-4pm on the Sunday.