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Bowls In Focus : March April 2011
50 Bowls In Focus The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly What a week! The seven days surrounding last month’s Aus- tralian Open will be remembered for so many reasons. It got under way with the glittering Bowls Australia Awards Night at Crown Casino and finished with the announcement that former world champion Steve Glasson had been appointed to the role of national coach. In between came the Open Championship’s triumphant return to Darebin - following its two-year Goul- burn Valley sabbatical – and Victoria’s domination of the medal tally. In a fantastic performance our bowlers collected a total of eight gold and seven silver medals from the various competitions in the biggest haul by any state in the event’s seven years. You’ll read an extensive coverage about the Open elsewhere in this magazine, however I add my con- gratulations to Lisa Phillips and Sam Shannahan for their 1-2 finish in the women’s singles; also to gold medal- ists Lee Schraner and Nev Rodda in the men’s pairs; Matty Flapper and Nick McIntyre in the men’s triples; Dane McKinnon in the Under-18 singles; plus Tony Scott, Josh Barry and Ross Brown in Bowlers With Disabilities events; and let’s not forget Phil Haynes, Gil Frederic and Peter Selby from Mitcham, who claimed gold in the Over-60 triples. What made these performances even more meritorious is the fact that Bowls Australia brought seven of the world’s premier bowlers out from the UK to play at Darebin, yet none managed to reach a quarter final in any discipline. Having recent world indoor singles winner Paul Foster from Scotland; his legendary countryman Alex Mar- shall, an 11-times world champion; England’s Commonwealth Games gold medalist Natalie Melmore and compatriots Merv King and Stuart Airey; along with Welshmen Jason Greenslade and men’s Delhi singles gold medalist Roberts Weale in the field should have had the spectator terraces bursting at the seams. But good judges tell me the spectator numbers were actually a bit down on recent years. One wonders, did the organisers tell anyone? I can’t recall a single word about these superstars competing at the Open appearing in any mainstream press, radio or television sports news coverage. At a guess I’d reckon the cost of international air flights, luxury accommodation and appearance fees for these players would have set Bowls Australia back about $35,000, so it stands to reason that BA would compliment the investment by ensur- ing as much mainstream exposure as possible, even if they had to pay for it. The few news grabs that appeared on the BA and various state association web sites certainly didn’t do the trick. Ironically, there were two Selby’s in the winner’s circle on the final day of the Open. Big Leif from NSW, who became the first multiple winner of the men’s singles crown and pock- eted a cool $18,000, while Peter from Mitcham, who played in the winning Over-60 men’s triples team, went home penniless. Since the Open senior triples event first came into being in 2007, the Over-60’s have always competed for prizemoney, but this year the category was mysteriously missing from the cash pool. Competitors claim they were never advised, one even suggesting they’d been duped. Sydney’s Jan Rolph, who won $3000 in the same event last year at Shepparton and backed up again this time with former Victorians Betty Her- bertson and Denise Knight, was less than impressed and lead the group of finalists who descended on BA’s of- fices at Darebin immediately after the presentations. To say it resembled a ‘lynch mob’ might be a bit drastic, but it was an ugly scene and who knows what might have happened had they found a length of rope? Rolph went on to say she hadn’t paid motel bills to stay on in Melbourne for an extra three days, sweltered in the sultry conditions and paid the $50 entry fee to win a tin medal, while Herbertson, ever the gracious lady, added that it was her first time in the event but she would never enter again. As for the Mitcham men, including leader Peter Selby, their comments were mostly unprintable. Was this a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul – and Alex, and Natalie, Merv, Stuart, Jason and Robert? Is it possible that Bowls Australia has developed a Scrooge mentality over the past four years? We all re- member the early Opens when play- ers in the main draw were provided with a light lunch every day while they were still alive in the competition. Gone. Likewise, there was a time when winning a state berth in the national indoor finals was rewarded with a trip to Tweed Heads, accommo- dation (while still ‘alive’) and a daily continental breakfast. Gone too. These days they don’t even give a continental. And please, don’t tell me they haven’t got any money. I know seven international bowlers who will attest to the contrary. However, I must say this recent Open was very well organised, Dare- bin’s green were as good as could be expected considering the 300mm of rain they absorbed in the month lead- ing up to it, and the complex looked a treat with the new temporary fencing making it appear like a bona-fide international sporting venue. But best of all, this Open was a ripping success for Victorian bowlers. Well done guys! • Young Victorian starlets Sam Shannahan and Lisa Phillips fought out the Australian Open women’s singles final. Dougie Dougie Mark Jacobsen SHOP ONLINE www.thebowlsshoppe.com.au 10% to 50% OFF excludes bowls & accessories (03) 9375 4820 firstname.lastname@example.org $10 OFF COLOURED POLOS 15% OFF SHOES ALL VLBA $20 & MUCH MUCH MORE OVERSTOCKED WITH BARGAINS GALORE