Meet Kim & Phil

by Melanie Allen

From Olympics to Bowls

Meet Kimberley Langton and Philip Mahoney, Kim and Phil. A sports-mad couple who have both seen sporting success at the most elite level, and are now honing their skills on the bowling green.

Kim and Phil first met in Los Angeles, USA while travelling with the Australian team competing in the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games, a multi-sport event for athletes with intellectual disabilities. Phil was part of the basketball team and brought home a gold medal. Kim also made it to the podium, taking out bronze in the 400m track event.

Not only did the pair win medals for Australia while in the USA, it seems they also won each other’s hearts, and a relationship began to blossom. Phil soon moved from Victoria to Queensland, to Kim’s home town of Gympie. Their parents helped the pair by assisting them to move into their own unit together so they could gain confidence living independently as a couple.

While living in Gympie, Phil decided he wanted to try barefoot bowls and wandered into the local Albert Park Bowls Club. While they didn’t have a social bowls program at the time, Phil was able to have a few rolls ups, with the club coach helping him learn the game, and not long after he found himself playing pennant. It was a last minute scramble for a Pairs partner for Phil that got Kim into bowls. Phil had made it through to the QLD State Championships but found himself needing a substitute partner – enter Kim! Kim’s very first game of bowls was at that 2018 State Champs, and she’s loved it ever since, and while they didn’t take home the prize in the Pairs event, Phil was Runner Up in the Singles that year.

After successfully managing their new living arrangements for two years in QLD, and with the support of their families, Kim and Phil made the move to Phil’s home state of Victoria, and are now happily living in the South Eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Both have been active members of Clayton Bowls Club for a number of years. Their bowls ability has gone from strength to strength, and together they won silver medals in the Pairs at the 2021 State Disabilities Championships, and Phil won the ID Singles title.

Kim and Phil love bowls! They both work hard at improving themselves, including going to a specialist gym twice per week. The trainers at Woodford Sport Science Consulting in Moorabbin work with both bowlers by focusing on specific exercises that will help them with their bowls. Phil also sees a Sports Phycologist to work on his mental approach to the game. Woodford’s mission of ‘any athlete, any goal, any starting point’ is a good fit. Additionally, Kim participates in regular Equine Therapy sessions to help her mental health. Phil thinks that this has improved Kim’s delivery by helping her to relax and slow down a bit on the mat, due in part to her learning to stay calm and still while feeding the horses.

Kim, or ‘Kimbo’ as Phil calls her, loves watching bowls. “I can’t get her away from the live streams some nights. If she’s not watching it live, she’s watching the replays”, says Phil. He thinks this has also helped Kim to improve her game.

The duo have recently made the decision to change clubs, and now proudly don the blue and white for Moorabbin Bowls Club. Phil was quick to say that they really enjoyed their time at Clayton, under the watchful eye and guidance of Ali Forsyth. “Ali is a mentor and a friend, and he really helped us a lot”.

But after meeting with Moorabbin President, John Smith, and being invited to the club’s recent Presentation Night, they know they’ve made the right decision. They both love the new grass green at Moorabbin and have been warmly welcomed by the members. Phil said at the Presentation Night Kim was “grinning ear to ear”.

“They were all saying, welcome to the Blue Army, you look good in blue! We wore our new uniforms and they got me to do a little parade, it was really uplifting”, said an excited Kim. Of the move to Moorabbin, Phil commented, “the club is getting more new members, the Presentation Night was really fun, the food was good, and we took lots of fun photos at their photo booth. Everyone was really friendly and welcoming, and the President had emailed the members about us so they all knew who we were and said hello”. The two also said there was a good feeling about the lower sides and players at the club, and both are excited about getting new opportunities to better their bowls.

Moorabbin Bowls Club President John Smith said of their new sign-ups, “we’re really excited to welcome Philip and Kim to the club. They have been warmly embraced by the Moorabbin members and we’re hoping we can provide them the sort of environment that will see them thrive as individuals and as bowlers. They have already earned respect with their work ethic and dedication to the game. They will be great additions to our club and the community”.

Phil is currently sponsored by Aero and uses Aero Evolves, and he is happy to have their support. During the recent lockdowns, Kim bought herself a new set of tri-colour Aero Optimas, her “lollipops” as she likes to call them. Both bowlers wear Sparms when they play, not only for the sun protection, but both think that they in some way assist Kim to keep her arm straighter during her delivery. However, they think the manufacturer should make them in royal blue to match their new uniform (we’ll pass that on to Sparms)! Phil’s bowls heros are Brett Wilkie, who helped him a lot when he was in QLD, and Barrie Lester, and he aspires to be part of the VIS some day. Kim just loves watching as much bowls action as she can on the live streams or on TV.

At the time of publication, Kim and Phil were competing in the 2022 Victorian State Disabilities Championships in Bendigo, with Phil going on to win the ID Singles title for the second year running. We know Phil and Kim have a bright future together, and their bowls will only continue to improve with the amount of work and effort they both put in. We look forward to following their journey.

For more stories about our Victorian bowlers with a disability, please click here.

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