National Blind Bowls Championships: Merriwa's Medalist!
Long-time Merriwa employee and local athlete, Ivan Shortis, won gold and silver medals at the National Blind Bowls Championships held recently in Perth.
Ivan has worked for Merriwa for over twelve years, firstly in the Timber Division and more recently in the Packaging Division. His current role at Merriwa’s Wangaratta plant involves packing stock, making trays, adhering labels and loading tables.
Ivan won gold in the B2 Men’s Singles division and a silver medal in the Open Pairs competitions, together with his bowls partner, Len O’Brien. Also present was his faithful guide dog, Shine.
“Shine, a beautiful Labrador, has been by my side for almost 18 months. She accompanied me to Perth and was a great support, as always,” said Ivan.
Ivan said the national competition was challenging.” The playing surface was considerably fast than I am used to, due to the dry Perth conditions. I lost my first two games. But once I adjusted for the fast surface, I managed to win the remaining four matches,” he said.
Ivan earned his place in the Victorian state team following gold and silver medal wins at Victorian Blind Bows State Titles held in April this year.
Ivan’s fellow Victorian athletes also did well at the nationals, with the team winning a total of six medals.
The Victorian team’s success has resulted in Ivan, and three other Victorians, now being members of the Australian squad.
Ivan is set to compete with the Australian squad at the Trans-Tasman Blind Bowls Champions on the Gold Coast in April 2020. To prepare he trains twice a week, including competing in the regular Bowls Pennant competition with sighted athletes, as a member of the Benalla Bowls Club.
“I enjoy competing in the Pennant rounds. Ever since my daughter Nicole Shortis, herself an avid bowler who has represented Australia, encourage me to give it a try I’ve loved the sport. That was eight years ago,” said Ivan.
If Ivan wins a medal at the Trans-Tasman competition, he will represent Australia at the World Blind Bowls Title in 2021. Competitors come from all over the world, including the UK, South Africa and Israel.
Ivan’s colleagues describe him as a ‘quiet achiever’, with many not knowing about his success on the green.
Kris Smith, a Merriwa Support Worker said, “Ivan is a well-respected team member. We congratulate him and are very proud of his achievements both on and off the green. And it’s always a joy to have Shine, Ivan’s guide dog, come and greet us each morning, when they arrive for work.”