Shannahan switches clubs but Games focus remains

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AVENUE Bowling Club has pulled off one of the great pre-season bowls recruiting coups, landing Australian-standard bowler Samantha Shannahan for the 2013-2014 Ballarat-Geelong Premier Division bowls season. The club approached the 24-year-old earlier this year and was able to negotiate terms that both parties could benefit from the situation. Avenue now has the potential to become a force in the premier league after yo-yoing in and out for so many years, while Shannahan will use the opportunity to push her case for a spot in the Australian squad for the 2014 Commonwealth Games to be held in Glasgow. “I’ve always had to do my own sourcing when looking for clubs – I’d never had a club approach me before and ask me to play – so I was touched when Avenue sent out the invitation,” Shannahan said. “I was playing for Lara in the premier division, but they got relegated last year and I need to be playing at a higher standard if I’m a chance for selection for next year’s Commonwealth Games.” Shannahan, the 74th female bowler to represent Australia at international level, was listed as a reserve for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, and has had her share of setbacks en route to her bid for the 2014 games. “I was so close to a place in the last Commonwealth Games, and that’s really given me the drive to perform well this season and give the Australian selectors a good reason to pick me,” she said. “Sometimes it’s difficult being a female playing in men’s pennant – there were times when I was younger where I had been refused access to tournaments and other times where a lot of clubs or players refused to play against me. “But I feel like I fit in well with Avenue’s culture and their policies towards women bowling in premier division.” Shannahan first picked up a bowl at the tender age of 14, and in the 10 years since she has been a junior world champion and a two-time runner-up in the Australian Open singles. Most recently, she won the Australian Open triples title in February this year. Shannahan will present her case for Australian selection at a training camp at the end of October as part of the 14-strong Australian women’s squad.