Para-athlete Jake Fehlberg was 10 when his vision started to deteriorate.
Most important points:
- Jake Fehlberg aims for another gold medal at the Commonwealth Games next month
- The 28-year-old competes with his dad who helps him on the green
- The reigning gold medalist says he can mix it up with the best lawn bowl players
He picked up lawn bowls despite struggling to see the other from the green and needed a guide at the head to lead him.
Fast forward 18 years and Felhberg is a reigning Commonwealth Games gold medalist, aiming for consecutive wins with his father by his side.
It has been a busy 12 months of preparation for the Bargara residents who will be flying to Birmingham in the coming weeks.
“This year I traveled 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,” said Jake.
“I had to go to Tweed Heads for the National Championship and most recently to the Gold Coast for the Australian Open.”
Lawn bowls players rely heavily on their sight when they compete, but visually impaired participants require different guidance methods.
“As a visually impaired player I have to make sure I have the equipment I need, and for me I usually use a monocular to get a sense of the other side,” he said.
He said he would also have a director available.
“Without having that organized, I wouldn’t be able to compete.”
Father and son duo
Jake’s father Grant Fehlberg plays the important role of his vision director.
“Actually, 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 ended up.
“He can track the ball down with his monocular, but I’m estimating the distance and depth for him,” Grant said.
“It’s full concentration because he relies so much on my advice and I have to be precise 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 on a lawn because what you can achieve is pretty amazing,” he said.
Jakes said he didn’t let his handicap limit his ability to mix it with the best on the green.
“I like defending myself against everyone and trying to be confident and not hold back.”
The Commonwealth Games start on July 28.