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Bowls In Focus : May 2011
20 Bowls In Focus Playing at home is always an advantage, they say, so the Australians were naturally hotly tipped for glory in last month’s World Cup Indoor Singles Cham- pionship at the spectacular Warilla Bowls Club on the NSW south coast. Warilla-based Leif Selby was hoping to retain the men’s title for a third triumph, Ballarat-born Brett Wilkie was keen to push him all the way, Katrina Wright had her sights set on the women’s crown, and talented youngsters Ben Twist and our own Sam Shannahan were carrying home hopes in the Junior World Cup. Given that bowls in this part of the world is essential- ly an outdoor game, played on fast greens with the sun on our backs, the host country’s hopes were dented a tad when World Bowls Limited, the sport’s governing body, made it an indoor event. This certainly evened things up, giving more chance to the visitors from the UK, though playing on carpet was a new experience for the majority of overseas competitors. Strange that Bowls England decided not to support the event, by all accounts on financial grounds. If the tiny Channel Islands of Guernsey and Jersey could afford to send representatives, you would have thought that mighty England would have been able to scrape the pennies together! Australia did win one event when Ben Twist came out on top in the junior men’s contest, but, apart from that, and Wilkie’s bronze medal, the hosts were up- staged by (whisper it!) New Zealand, Ireland, Scotland - and even Guernsey. Selby’s hopes of retaining the men’s title, for example, were dashed by Guernsey’s Ian Merrien, whose previous claim to fame was that he is married to the feisty Alison Merrien, who won this title in 2008. A shock defeat at the hands of Merrien meant that Selby finished fourth in his round robin group, and missed out on a place in the knockout stage. In the past, fourth would have been good enough to book a place in the quarter finals, but the new system, first utilised in last year’s Delhi Commonwealth Games, sees the section winner go straight into the last four, leaving the second and third in both groups to battle it out for the vacant semi final places. Aussie hopes quickly transferred to Wilkie, who was immediately installed as the new favourite for the title. Indeed, when the Victorian exile reached the semi finals, everyone expected him to avenge his 6-9 6-10 sectional defeat at the hands of little-known Irishman James Talbot. It was not to be. Benefitting somewhat from the rub of the green, Talbot prevailed, 7-6 7-7, then went on to win the title, beating Scotland’s Graeme Archer 6-7 9-7 3-1 in the final. But, if the Aussies disappointed in the men’s event, it was worse news for Wright and Shannahan in the women’s senior and junior competitions? Wright was beaten by reigning World Bowls champi- on Val Smith, and by Hong Kong’s Tammy Tham, who Thriller At Warilla • Left: Brilliant Sydney youngster Ben Twist pow- ered to victory in the junior championship. • Below: Ballarat-born Brett Wilkie missed out on a world final berth by just one shot. • Above: Victoria’s Sam Shannahan sends one away against Canada’s Kerry McKerihen.
March April 2011
June July 2011