Hanets Glasgow bound for Commonwealth Games
For the last 25 years, their proficiency on a lawn bowling surface has taken Al and Vi Hanet to destinations all across the planet.
Next month, the Hanets will make their second trip to Scotland, where the Kelowna couple will compete at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Al Hanet will team up with Calgary's Heather Hannett to represent Canada in visually impaired lawn bowling pairs at the games, while Vi Hanet will serve as a guide.
It's been 20 years since Al took part in his first Commonwealth Games in Victoria in 1994.
"I didn't win a medal (in Victoria) but it was a great experience," said Al Hanet, 78. "I sure would like to win one in Scotland. I think we have the team to do it. We're looking forward to it."
Al Hanet has partial sight and is considered a B3 by Paralympic eyesight classification. As his coach, Vi helps direct or guide Al's throws towards the lawn bowling target, or small white ball called a 'jack'.
Al first tried lawn bowling in 1989 and turned out to be an exceedingly quick study. In his first event, six weeks after bowling his first ball, he won gold at a competition in Penticton.
In the 25 years since, Hanet has won 57 medals, including 22 at nationals (10 gold) and three in international competition.
Not surprisingly, Al Hanet's considers his many thousands of hours on a lawn bowling pitch to be time well spent.
"I could have been sitting around at home doing nothing, just bumming around but when I got into lawn bowling, I thought this is really good, it's enjoyable and keeps me busy," said Al Hanet, 78. "When we started going overseas, then I really had to step up my game and do the best as I could. I'm pretty happy with what I've done in the sport and certainly with where we've gone."
Between Al's passion for the game and the couple's interest in travelling, the Hanets have made the most of what lawn blowing has had to offer.
"He loves the competition and he seems to do very well at it," Vi Hanet said of Al.
"It's exciting to bowl with other bowlers, to meet all the people we have met over the years…camaraderie has been a big part of it, too.
"We have friends in China, Africa, New Zealand, Australia, all over the world. It's wonderful."
And what has made Al Hanet one of North America's most successful visually impaired lawn bowlers of the last quarter century.
"You need to have a killer instinct…I'm not mean, I'm just competitive and like to win. I get disgusted with myself if miss a shot or don't do well, and I want to make up for it next time. I think that's helped me a lot."
Al and Vi Hanet will travel to Calgary July 2 to meet up and train with their partner, Heather Hannett and her guide Susan Acorn.
The foursome leaves for Scotland July 12, with the para-athlete lawn bowling competition slated to start on July 24.
The Hanets are due back in Kelowna on Aug. 4.