Elite lawn bowlers younger than you’d expect

by admin on April 2, 2014

The state-versus-state lawn bowls championships being played in Tasmania’s north-west this week are drawing attention to the evolution of the game, as Emily Bryan reports for the ABC. Aidan Davis from Bowls Australia says the changing face of the sport is evident at all levels of competition. Mr Davis says the most elite group of players rival that of the Australian cricket team in age. “There’s not so many of the elder brigade here in force,” he said. “The five women competing at the Commonwealth Games later this year has an average age of 27 so it’s quite surprising. “The men are a little bit older than that, they’re peaking at the low 30s, but there’s certainly a young brigade of national bowlers competing at these sort of events.” These days, lawn bowler Karen Murphy strides onto the green in an open-necked shirt, baggy pants and a cap emblazoned with the New South Wales logo. She is dressed for comfort, but the 30-year veteran of the sport remembers a time when things were very different. “I started in the days when we wore stockings and long skirts and big hats,” she said. “It really is more of a colourful sport now and hopefully that’s really changed the perception people have of bowls.” At 17, Tasmanian teenager Mike Sims is one of the youngest and has already been playing for seven years. “Mainly because Dad played really. I used to go and watch him on a Saturday and he was the one who sort of coached me and got me into the game,” he said. Fellow Tasmanian Rebecca Van Asch was also 17 when she made her debut at the Australian Sides Championships in 2005. Since then she has represented Australia 119 times. “I made it into the Australian senior ranks in the last couple of years and won a world title at the end of 2012,” said Van Asch. About 200 of Australia’s best bowlers are competing in Burnie this week, giving the Commonwealth Games team some valuable practice. “The national team to travel to the northern hemisphere was picked a week ago,” Mr Davis said. “This sort of gives them the perfect preparations – it certainly provides them with the avenue to prepare properly ahead of the Commonwealth Games.