Bargara resident and long-time lawn bowls player Jake Fehlberg will be heading to the Commonwealth Games next month to represent Australia in the vision impaired mixed pairs.
Jake will play alongside his team mate Helen Boardman in Birmingham and it's not the first time the local sportsman has taken on the best in the world.
In 2018, he brought home gold at the Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast and hopes his next crack at the number one spot is just as successful.
“The Gold Coast games was my first major event and it was great because I was able to be with my family and have them support me,” he said.
“The fact that I am going to be missing them by doing it overseas this time around and in front of a whole new group of people is a bit daunting but I am really excited about getting abroad.”
Jake has played lawn bowls for the past 16 years and said it began as a hobby that quickly turned into something more.
“My dad was already playing bowls at Burleigh Heads Bowls Club and that's when my brother and I were asked to join a junior squad,” he said.
“Then we became more competitive and I found out about a vision impaired competition and started playing that in 2011.
“Since then I have gone on to represent Australia.”
After moving to the region 12 months ago, Jake said he had enjoyed playing with the Bargara Bowls Club.
The 28 year old said being vision impaired never stopped his dream of moving forward with a sporting career.
“I have an eye disease called Corneal Dystrophies which causes degeneration of the corneas in the back of the eyes,” he said.
“I was born with it but it took on its major effects between the ages of 13 and 16 years old.
“I am lucky that lawn bowls is a very inclusive sport and allows anyone from any age or any disability to compete.”
In vision impaired lawn bowls, Jake said the game ran much the same as any other match except for the addition of directors.
“My director, which happens to be my Dad, stands beside me and tells me how far away the bowls are,” he said.
“It is good to have that support with Dad being my director as well as from family point of view.
“My team mate Helen also has a director.”
Commonwealth Games set to be a challenge for Jake
Jake will travel with Helen, her director and his Dad to the Commonwealth Games in July to prepare for the first match as Team Australia on 1 August.
He said he was expecting the upcoming games to be full of challenges.
“Because the surface over in England is so different to what we have in Australia, it has been difficult to train,” he said.
“They have different grass and because of the cooler temperatures over there, they can only play at certain times of the year.
“It is a lot slower to play on so you have to bowl a lot harder – it's very different preparation.”
When asked what advice he would give to others who wanted to follow their sporting dreams, Jake said to go for gold.
“I would encourage anybody, no matter your ability and no matter the sport, to always pursue their passion,” he said.
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