Murray Wenzel / AAP News
The national treasure of Australia’s Commonwealth Games village Cheryl Lindfield joined with Serena Bonnell to claim silver in the women’s Para-lawn Bowls Pairs B6-B8.
There is a 43-year gap between Cheryl Lindfield and Maddison Levi, the Australian rugby 7s star whose pants the lawn bowler wore on the podium in Birmingham.
At 63, Para-lawn bowls pairs talent Lindfield is Australia’s oldest athlete at this Commonwealth Games and will return home with a silver won on Wednesday she dedicated to her ill mother.
“I got a call just before we entered the village on day one, saying my mother hasn’t got long to live,” Lindfield told reporters after her and Serena Bonnell’s 17-5 gold medal match loss to Scotland.
“I think she’d be proud. I’m here today playing for her as well; she was a bowler, we played together.”
Dubbed the national treasure of Australia’s games village, Lindfield’s brave face and bubbly personality had captured the hearts of her teammates, which included the gold medal-winning women’s sevens team.
Allotted ceremony pants a size too big, the 20-year-old Levi offered up her own in what became a genuine Games friendship that captures the spirit of the event.
“They (the men’s and women’s sevens team) were 100 per cent behind us,” Lindfield said.
“I got messages this morning saying ‘go for it, we’re really proud of you’. So it’s across all sports.
“They’re elite sportspeople; what an opportunity to be amongst it.”
Lindfield, who supports her weight with a frame while bowling, has a muscular skeletal disability that causes dislocations and impacts balance.
She only returned to the sport a year ago but is prepared to push on to Victoria’s Games in four years.
“Yes, yes, yes,” she said.
“I watched the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane … in my 20s I was told I had to give up sport otherwise I’d be in a wheelchair,” she said.
“I went ‘ok, what can I do with just my arms?’
“I did archery, tried golf … then bowls and they said ‘you’re a natural’.
“What I like is that in some companies I can be the youngest and in others I’ll be 40 years out, like our singles gold medallist (25-year-old Ellen Ryan).
“What other sport can you play at the highest level together and with all your family?”
Bonnell, 40, was clearly disappointed to miss gold, Scotland powering away from a 5-5 deadlock in the bright sunshine at Victoria Park in Leamington Spa.
“We were hoping the gold was going to rub off on us,” she said of Levi’s gifted pants.
But she reflected on the opportunity that’s come despite limited use of her left arm and right leg stemming from a mystery illness potentially caused by eating a poisonous fish while completing a legal internship in China.
“This is a demonstration of true inclusion; on the same green, same accommodation, same uniform – that’s true inclusion,” she said.
“I was quite sporty before I got sick and when I did, I didn’t think there would be a sport that offered the inclusion, opportunity for me to be competitive.
“I saw it on TV and that’s the positive of today, you can be what you see.
“I gave it a go at home, to see if I could deliver a bowl. Once I was confident I could I went down to the local club and was welcomed,
“And the rest is history.”