South Tweed bowler Crystal Martin
South Tweed bowler Crystal Martin Blainey Woodham

Crystal's moment to shine

IT was a school sports program in 2006 that led Crystal Martin to send one down at Karingal Bowls Club for the first time.

Little did she or anybody else know that the events that day in Melbourne would change her life forever.

Martin, who was diagnosed with autism five years ago, claimed gold at the Australian Open last month.

Already familiar with the game of lawn bowls from watching her grandfather grace the greens, Martin developed a love and passion for the game after her introduction.

A natural with bowl in hand, she quickly set about winning local competitions before gradually progressing through the ranks to the pinnacle event in Australian bowls.

“She just got hooked on the game and it went from there,” father Peter Martin said.

“She’s growing in confidence and her enthusiasm even got me hooked.

“And now she’s the national champion we’re just so proud.”

In 2008, the then 15-year-old Victorian representative took bronze in the ladies pairs, returning the following year to snatch gold in the mixed pairs and silver in the ladies singles before relocating to South Tweed and switching her allegiance to the Queensland state side.

In 2010 Martin struck silver again in the ladies singles and claimed gold in the ladies pairs to prove to all exactly how far she had come.

A change in format this year prevented the soon-to-be 19-year-old from defending her pairs crown, but refocussing her attention on the ladies singles proved fruitful.

The South Tweed Sports star prevailed in three tight sets over former Victorian teammate Joanna Lomagno at Darebin City Bowls Club late last month to be crowned 2011 Australian Open Women’s BWD (bowler with a disability) Champion.

“It felt pretty good to win because I’ve been close before,” Martin said.

“The competition was good and the final was pretty close.”

The country’s best disabled bowler is in fine company at South Tweed with former Commonwealth Games gold medallist Kelvin Kerkow among her champion club mates.

“I like the people at South Tweed and enjoy bowling there,” she said.

“There are some good players there too.

“Hopefully I can play overseas one day.”

Martin will defend her title at next year’s Australian Open in Adelaide but until then will continue doing South Tweed proud on the local circuit while continuing her Accommodation and Hospitality studies at TAFE.

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