AN ABBEYVIEW Bowling Club member who joked that he took up the sport because he “couldn’t think of anything else” has become a UK champion.

Ian Graham, who is the secretary of the Scottish Association of Blind Bowlers, was part of the Team Scotland squad who competed at the UK Indoor Singles Home International for visually-impaired and blind bowlers in Glasgow.

Men’s and women’s events were held in the B1, B2, B3 and B4 classifications featuring bowlers from Scotland, England and Wales and Ian, making his debut in the competition, took victory in the gents’ B2 competition.

He was joined in the medals by club-mate Robert Rodgers, who won bronze in the B4 section, and Ian described the experience as a “massive thrill”.

“It was an honour to play for Scotland and a massive achievement for me,” he told Press Sport.

“I’ve only been bowling for six-and-a-half years and this was the first time I’d played in the UK Championship, so I thought I did well. I played football for 31 years but I’ve been registered blind since I was 43, and I stopped playing football when I was 46.

“In 2011, I was at the (Forth Valley) sensory centre in Camelon and two guys came looking to recruit blind bowlers. I told them to sod off, that’s for old guys, but that afternoon my son, who’s also registered blind, was selected for GB at basketball for the Paralympics.

“He said to me, ‘So what are you going to do?’ and I said bowls because I couldn’t think of anything else. And that was it!”

Ian continued: “I got the gold but I was a bit surprised because there were six of us in that category; two from England, two from Wales and two from Scotland.

“One of the English guys is a world champion and the other was a former B3 world champion, and the other Scot, Billy Edgar, is a former world medallist. I didn’t expect to get past the three of them.

“I lost to Billy then drew with the world champion, and in my last game against Wales, I had to win and I hammered the Welsh guy.

“Abbeyview, Dunfermline and Fife all did well and I have to mention my director, Marday Vyapooree.”

Ian and Robert’s medal successes helped Scotland win the team trophy and Ian added: “This was my Scottish national debut so it’s the biggest event I’ve played. We walked out to Scotland the Brave, had the anthems before it and walked around the green to 500 Miles by the Proclaimers. That got things going!

“To win five golds out of eight was pretty good going, and I think there were five new medallists as well. I’ve got my eyes set on an outdoor event in Llandudno in June but it was a massive thrill.

“Visually-impaired bowling is on the up in Scotland and it’s good for health, fitness and mental health. We’re picking up people who before may have had nothing to do and the greatest pleasure is seeing two boys we recruited to blind bowls on the green.”

Stuart Roxburgh, Abbeyview Bowling Club secretary, added: “We’re all delighted for Ian and Robert. Ian is active in the administration and playing side and we have quite a few blind bowlers who play regularly at the club, and in mainstream competitions to a good level.

“We’ve had Maria Spencer who has won titles before so it’s great to have someone else do it, and for Robert to win bronze in the same competition.”