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‘Fantastic five’ knocks down tenpin rivals

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Hunter tenpin bowler Michael Wheatley is packing his bags for Germany in 2023 after a brilliant performance at the recent National Games.

The Dullboy’s Social Co Warners Bay member returned home from the Special Olympics Australia extravaganza with a gold medal in singles, as well as a bronze in doubles.

As for his local team-mates, collectively dubbed the Fantastic Five, they fared extremely well, too.

Stacey Smith captured gold in the teams’ event and backed up with a bronze in the doubles.

Not to be outdone, Lorraine Archer (doubles, teams), Michael Courey (doubles, teams) and Clancey Riley (singles, doubles, teams) also secured a swag of medals, after finishing third in each of their respective competitions.

The Special Olympics, hosted every four years, welcomed more than 750 athletes – representing a variety of sports – to Launceston.

And, the participants went into the prestigious tournament knowing full well that world team selection was on the line.

In the tenpin bowling arena, more than 120 people showcased their skills.

So, it was an impressive effort from the Hunter quintet, in elite company, to snare a total of 11 medals.

As a result, Wheatley will now don the “green and gold” in Berlin from 17 to 25 June.

He was one of just four athletes to be named in the Australian tenpin squad to contest the Special Olympics World Games.   

More than 7,000 competitors and unified partners from approximately 170 countries will vie for glory in 24 sports.

A further 3,000 coaches and 20,000 volunteers are expected to be on hand, too, highlighting the significance of the event.

For Wheatley, it’s a self-funded trip of substantial proportions with all things travel and new equipment to meet the challenge on the horizon.

So, we all hope he “strikes” another rich vein of form overseas.

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