McIntyre is currently the only trained international medical classifier for disability bowls in Africa.
‘This is a huge responsibility as all athletes with a physical disability have to be correctly classified prior to international competitions,’ said McIntyre.
‘It is exciting as the sport is gaining many followers among all ages and people with disabilities, who are able to compete on an equal footing with able bodied players.’
Medical classifiers for lawn bowls have to be either an occupational therapist, physiotherapist or a medical practitioner with special knowledge about disability. The medical classifiers are responsible for the bench tests which then determine if an athlete meets the criteria to be a disabled athlete for that sporting code.
Classification in sport for the disabled is done in different classification groups as well as through a sport specific system, which aims to make the competition as fair as possible for all competitors.
According to McIntyre the classification goal is to create a ‘level playing field. The different classification groups are athletes with visual disability, intellectual disability and physical disability.’
She said any athlete wanting to be classified for sport for the physically disabled, must have a permanent and irreversible disability. ‘In the sport specific classification system, a class will usually include a variety of different disabilities.’
McIntyre underwent training in Gauteng with international head classifier, Ms Sheila Corcoran, a Physiotherapist from Australia.
She said the classification of 10 physically disabled bowlers, who were participating in a tournament at the time, formed part of her practical examination.
Bowlers were classified into the classes B5 (who are the most severely disabled) to B8, (the least disabled but still meet the criteria as a disabled bowler ie they have lost a certain number of points in the bench tests).
According to McIntyre, in lawn bowls classes B1 to B4 are for visually impaired bowlers with B1 for the totally blind and B4 those with specific vision loss. Their assessment is usually done by an optometrist or ophthalmologist, as the amount of vision they have determines their class.
There are currently seven trained international medical and seven technical classifiers to classify lawn bowls athletes for international competition. ‘The aim is to have a medical and technical classifier in each of the bowling regions of the world,’ said McIntyre.