When people lose their sight, their world often narrows to the safe and the familiar. For Norm Green, the opposite is true: his world has expanded – around the world – since losing his vision.
The energetic St. Clements man was left with limited sight after falling 18 feet onto his head at work back in 1992. At first he didn’t know what to do with himself, but just sitting around didn’t suit him well.
Green’s first step was to go back to five-pin bowling, an activity he’d enjoyed all his life. From there, he got into curling and then lawn bowling.
Those sports have taken him across Canada and around the world, to championships in New Zealand, Australia, Israel, and Scotland. Next week Green leaves for his second trip to Australia, to compete in the blind lawn bowling world championships.
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The last time Green was in Australia, it was for the International Paralympic Commission lawn bowling championships, for bowlers with a wide range of disabilities. Green was impressed to see amputees bowling with only one leg and other disabilities.
This tournament is just for the visually impaired. Green will be filling two spots on the team; he’s bowling in the pairs division with one of his curling teammates, Carrie Speers. And since the national men’s winner isn’t able to make it, he’ll be bowling in the men’s singles division as well.
The tournament starts Apr. 21 and Green is leaving Apr. 15. That gives him a few days to practice, since it’s too wet to get on the greens here, and work with his new coach, Shirley Ahern of Montreal.
Ahern’s role is to make sure he’s in the proper position, describe the position of the jack – the small white ball that serves as a target – and give advice on which shot to play.
“At lawn bowling, your coach is your eyes,” Green said.
The hardest thing to learn was the weight of the bowl and how hard to throw it, he said. In curling, the house is always in the same place; in lawn bowling, the target moves closer and farther away, making every shot different.
It’s been a while since Green was at a lawn bowling tournament, and he’s looking forward to reconnecting with old friends from around the world. After the tournament is over, he and his wife Carol are going on a 19-day tour of the country.
The competitive side is what got Green into curling and lawn bowling but it’s proven a great way to meet people and get back into the sighted world.
“A lot of people out there don’t know what to do when they lose their sight,” he said. “I’ve been able to do something with my life.”