Donna Holland is not your average ten-pin bowling enthusiast. As a left-handed, vision impaired athlete, she has reached the pinnacle of her sport and travelled the world competing,
“I am vision impaired, so I can still see shapes, pins and length. I bowl the full length of the alley, just like everyone else. And I did try bowling with my right hand, but nope, I bowl far better lefthanded!” Donna laughs.
She discovered the sport of ten-pin bowling thirty years ago at a Blind Society camp in Narrabeen and has since gone on to be the number one B2 female ten-pin bowler in Australia,
“I’ve played in lots of leagues and competitions, generally two nights a week. But representing Australia has been one of the greatest things I’ve ever achieved.”
Donna’s passport is more colourful and stamped than most, and her trophy cupboard sparkles and shines in the afternoon light – she would put most of us to shame with how many awards she has! Competing in ten pin bowling on a global stage has taken her to the World Blind Games in Helsinki, Orlando, Sydney and South Korea and she recently travelled to Brisbane to defend her number one title.
“I don’t take my success in ten pin bowling for granted and I only started becoming competitive when I started ten pin bowling,” Donna continues.
But Donna doesn’t fly solo when competing locally. At her side is Home Care Worker, Lisa, who helps with domestic chores, like cleaning the house, and equally important, is her spotter on Monday nights at a local competition,
“I’ve been working with Donna for just under two years and spotting for her for about the same time. Being a spotter means I tell her what pins are left and she can adjust her footing position and stand where she needs to. It can be a lot of descriptive work, so she can adjust herself and work out what ball she wants to use,” Lisa says.
“She’s an incredible bowler, for the vision that she’s got, she can go for strikes and knock down all the pins – I wouldn’t be able to do that without the gutter stoppers!”
Lisa speaks highly of Donna and how she helps inspire other vision impaired athletes,
“I’ve learnt from Donna that you can do anything you put your mind to. Being vision impaired shouldn’t stop you from doing things; you can do whatever you want,” Lisa says.
“She inspires me so much with what she had achieved all over the world and in Australia, it’s incredible.”
When we asked Donna about her advice for someone who might want to try a new sport or skill, her response is simple,
“Go ahead and do it. Just go and try it… I tried many other sports I didn’t really enjoy. I then tried ten-pin bowling and really enjoyed knocking down the pins, so it seemed like a good fit for me.”
Both Donna and Lisa agree that it is fantastic that parasports are (finally!) having their moment; being celebrated in mainstream media and spoken about more regularly.
“It’s so exciting that para-sports are getting the proper coverage that it needs,” concluded Lisa. “It’s amazing what people like Donna can achieve and how that can inspire the next generation of para-athletes in the process.”