From rink outsider to Jackaroo star

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Eighteen months ago Carla Odgers seemed a longshot for selection in the Australian team for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, Chris Cavanagh reports for the Leader . An up-and-coming young lawn bowler who had achieved plenty domestically, she was yet to crack the Australian Jackaroos squad and had not then made her mark on the international stage. But since being re-added to the Jackaroos squad this year, the 24-year-old has progressed in leaps and bounds and will next month fly to Scotland as one of just five women bowlers to pull on the green and gold at the Games. “The last 12 months has been pretty big for me,” Odgers said. “Last year was the first year I’d made the senior squad and then the Trans-Tasman was the first time I’d been picked for a major event. So it’s all happened pretty quickly which is good.” The Trans-Tasman battle against New Zealand — held in Traralgon in March — was where Odgers really came into prominence. Australia cleaned up at the tournament and the Keilor Downs resident played a key part, national selectors taking note and sticking with the same five women for Glasgow. “That was, I guess, the icing on the cake and got us all in the team,” Odgers said. As a member of the Australian squad, Odgers has been training at Maribyrnong Park since early this year, a move that’s been labelled Australia’s ‘secret weapon’ for the Commonwealth Games. The club modified one of its greens to mimic as closely as possible the conditions bowlers will face in Glasgow in a bid to provide Australia with an edge. “We’re really lucky that Maribyrnong Park’s done that to give us a training ground here in Australia rather than having to travel all the time over there just to have a practice,” Odgers said. “It’s been great for me too because it’s close to home.” Odgers, who took up lawn bowls in 2005 and plays Saturday pennant for Lalor over summer, said she would be “living the dream” by representing her country in Glasgow, where she will play in the women’s pairs and fours. What would make the experience all the more special is if she can bring home a medal, which Australia appears right in the mix to do. Carla Odgers is this week’s Brimbank Leader Senior Sports Star nominee. To nominate a sports star, presented by Sportsmart, visit leadernews.com.au/sportsstar