Preston Epplett, you can say, is serving a life sentence in playing army tenpin bowls these days - right, left, right.

In August 2004, Epplett lost the use of his right arm after tearing his "short head bicep tendon" above the armpit while competing in the Hawke's Bay Hawke's Bay Championship at the Super Strike Tenpin Bowling Centre in Hastings.

To cut a long story short, his daughter took his gold and silver medals to his hospital bed.

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That, of course, didn't stop the chartered accountant from playing the sport. He carried on, with some difficulties, with his left arm.

The 66-year-old, who dropped to 12-pound balls from 14, has reverted to his right arm after tearing the "anterior capsule" of his left arm three years ago.

"I've been doing a lot of strengthening work with the physio to make sure it was right," said Epplett last night after competing in the opening day of the New Zealand 55+ National Championship at the refurbished Hastings venue.

He and Roger Pedersen, of Petone, combined in the men's doubles competition.

However, the tournament organisers were unable to determine the winners from the field of 125 players last night.

Pedersen, a 34 handcapper, averaged 187, while Epplett, on a 31 handicap, was around the 160 mark.

Colin Reid (HB)/Dennis Brewin (Rotorua) and Paul Watts (Auckland)/Barry Ludlow (Kapiti) are contenders.

The nationals resume today with mixed doubles.