Para-athlete Jake Fehlberg was 10 when his vision started to deteriorate.
- Jake Fehlberg is striving for another gold medal at the Commonwealth games next month
- The 28-year-old competes alongside his father who helps him on the green
- The reigning gold medallist says he can mix it with the best lawn bowls players
He took up lawn bowls despite struggling to see the other of the green and needing a guide to stand at the head to direct him.
Fast-forward 18 years and Felhberg is a reigning Commonwealth Games gold medallist, striving for back-to-back wins with his dad by his side.
It’s been a busy 12 months of preparation for the Bargara locals who will fly to Birmingham in the coming weeks.
“This year I have travelled to the UK as part of a tour in preparation for the Commonwealth Games, I’ve been to the Gold Coast three times for training and trials,” Jake said.
“I had to go to Tweed Heads for the national championship and most recently the Gold Coast for the Australian Open.”
Lawn bowls players rely heavily on their sight when competing but for vision-impaired competitors, other methods of guidance are needed.
“As a visually-impaired player, I have to make sure I’ve got the equipment I need, which for me, I generally use a monocular to get an idea of the other end,” he said.
He said he would also have a director available.
“Without having that organised, I would not be able to compete.”
Father and son duo
Jake’s father Grant Fehlberg plays the important role of being his vision director.
“Basically, I’m Jake’s eyes,” he said.
“He puts the ball down, I make sure the mat is straight.”
He said he would give his son feedback on where his bowls were ending up.
“He can follow the ball down with his monocular, but I judge the distance and depth for him,” Grant said.
“It’s full-on concentration because he is so reliant on my advice and I have to be pretty spot on with what I say and get the information right.”
He said his son’s concentration was amazing.
“I do play the game but I don’t play at this level.”
He said it would be nice to play at a higher level but he didn’t have the ability.
“Anyone with a disability should consider playing lawn bowls because what you can achieve is pretty amazing,” he said.
Jakes said he did not let his disability restrict him from mixing it with the best on the green.
“I like to back myself against anybody and try and be confident and not hold back.”
The Commonwealth Games will start on July 28.