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Bowls In Focus : August September 2010
12 Bowls In Focus IT’S been a big year for Lara’s Sam Shannahan. She’s turned 21, moved home after a short stint in Sydney, missed out on the final Commonwealth Games team, won a world title and got picked as the women’s reserve for the Delhi Games. This certainly makes for an interesting time in the young woman’s life. “I’m excited because I haven’t been to India be- fore so that’s a first, and then to be there to watch and support the bowlers in the Commonwealth Games, and (going to) the opening ceremony and closing ceremony it will be a good atmosphere, I can’t wait,” Shannahan said. The Occupational Therapy student is busy finding a balance between study and training – as well as trying to find a carpet green similar to the ‘really, really heavy and bumpy’ ones at the stadium in Delhi. And the role as reserve/assistant coach for the women brings with it conflicting emotions – she wants to play but that would mean a teammate would need to fall ill. “It’s horrible because that’s the best thing that could happen (for me),” the 2008 NSW Open singles champion said. “But it’s not really because I don’t want them to get sick and they’ve been selected because they are the (best players) and I want to see Australia win gold, but I’ll be kind of hoping but kind of not really that I get a chance to play as well. “I’ve missed out on things recently so it’s a big thing to be going - it will be a good experi- ence to see what it’s like at that top level. “I’ve got my number – I’m the 74th lady to play for Australia - but it hasn’t been at a Commonwealth Games or anything massive like that. So this will be huge, even though I’m not playing it will still be exciting.” With India known to play havoc with many a Western stomach, Shannahan needs to be pre- pared for anything. “There’s high rates of getting ‘Delhi Belly’ over there so I have to be ready to cover anyone, like the manager, the coach, anyone. I don’t know who covers the reserve if the reserve gets sick,” she laughed. “But (I’ll be) providing players with any support they need. If they need someone to chat to while they are playing, if they need a drink, anything like that - or someone to practice against.” Even if she is just a spectator while dodging Indian mosquitoes, it will be a great experience for her as she aims to go one step better at the next Games, in Glasgow. “I want to go to the Commonwealth Games in Scotland and play. I have a Scottish background and my family would all go. I think that would be really good.” Back in April, fresh from the disappointment of not making the six women picked for Delhi, Shan- nahan donned the green and gold at the World Under-25 Singles Championships at Warilla. After finishing runner-up in 2009, the Geelong Cats supporter had unfinished business. But she didn’t get off to the best start, losing her first game, but responded well to win the next nine and the crown. “It was huge for me, and because I’d just been cut back from the Commonwealth Games squad to get in the team, it felt really good to show (the selectors) that I can win things, and I can play well. “And I think that might’ve helped with my selec- tion as reserve too. It’s very exciting.” At the time of writing Shannahan had yet to find a team for Saturday pennant but she was heading back to her first club, Lara, for the women. And after a year’s hiatus, thanks to her sojourn to Sydney, she is looking forward to representing Victoria again – although last year she almost played for the arch enemy, NSW, after signing up for St John’s Park. “I was there for six months and just as I was leaving (I got) my invite to the (NSW) squad. But we won the state pennants there (with St John’s Park).” The move to Sydney also allowed her to rub shoulders with Australian regulars Kelsey Cottrell and Julie Keegan on a daily basis. “Competition wise, I thought to get in the teams for the (Australian squad) it would help to be around the people who are selected in the teams, because there are a lot from NSW and Queen- sland. “And financially they are more supportive of bowls as well. The club I played at had a bistro, cafe, heaps of pokies, a function room, they could afford to suppor t their players, so that obviously helped when I was doing uni and not having much time to work. “And the environment, playing against the ladies that I’d play with in the Australian team helped as well. And I think it’s helped with selection. Maybe when I’ve finished my uni course I’ll go back, I don’t know.” But for now she has more pressing matters – like a uni course to focus on and a bag to pack for her up-coming flight to India. - David Polkinghorne • Left: World Under-25 singles champion Sam Shannahan back home at Lara. • Above: Shannahan on her world title winning way at Warilla.
June July 2010