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A partially sighted bowler who was on track to represent New Zealand at this month's Commonwealth Games has lost his chance to go for gold because he has regained the power of sight.
Deane Robertson, 55, misses out on representing his country as a para-athlete after he found out his vision had returned while he was being "classified" ahead of the Birmingham games.
"I walked out of the hospital pretty upset," said Robertson. "In some ways it was joy as well — because I could see! So, it was joy as well.
"The biggest one was seeing my first grandchild, who was born 10 days ago."
"It's a story of winning and losing," said Robertson's bowling director and guide, Kevin Smith. "They had to test him with special-strength glasses and suddenly he could see."
Robertson was 15 when he started losing his sight, and his condition worsened eight years ago. When he went for testing for the Commonwealth Games, he had a prosthetic left eye, and could only see about half a metre of blurred vision out of the right eye.
He acknowledged that it was only through coming to play bowls, succeeding, winning New Zealand titles and being selected for the Commonwealth Games that he realised that glasses could help him.
"If it wasn't for bowls, he'd be walking around with 18-inches of blurred vision," Smith said. "He lost the Commonwealth Games but has won his vision."
Robertson's started playing lawn bowls five years ago and soon found he had a special talent. He and Smith trained hard, and the bowler won national para-bowls titles.
"I didn't know how to bowl at all, I didn't have a clue," said Robertson. "Whatever he says, I do."
Just 14 weeks after bowling his first ball, Robertson won his first singles national title.
"When we first started, Kevin said we could go to the Commonwealth Games — and it happened."
The pair said they had been on an emotional rollercoaster when they realised Robertson could see again.
"When he first got tested at the hospital and suddenly realised Dean would be able to use glasses and have vision that would take him out of blind bowls and likely the Commonwealth Games, we were both in tears," said Smith.
After hearing the remarkable story, an optometrist donated a pair of imported glasses. Using these, Robertson can now see right up to the far end of the bowling green.
"He can stand on the New Brighton Pier and see boats going into Lyttelton Harbour," said Smith. "If it wasn't for bowls, he'd be walking around with 18-inches of blurred vision.
"He lost the Commonwealth Games but has won his vision."
Next season, Robertson is joining Smith in his Burnside Bowling Club team in what will be the first time he's played in a fully sighted competition. "I expect Deane to go very well," said Smith. "I have no doubt a lot of success will come his way."
Yesterday the New Zealand Olympic Committee made a special presentation to the bowler, marking his journey and selection, despite eventually being no longer eligible in blind bowls.
Gerald Browers, who is replacing Robertson in the New Zealand team, will work with Smith to try and get a medal to honour him.