Australian Under-18s set to shine in the Top End
Eighty of the nation’s rising lawn bowls stars will descend on the Northern Territory this weekend for the time-honoured Australian Under-18 Championships at Nightcliff Bowls Club, held from Monday to Thursday next week.
The sport’s premier junior competition has an illustrious history dating back to 1988 in the boys’ and 1998 in the girls’ event, with the current 5-a side format adopted in 2001, and an overall trophy awarded to the victorious state or territory combining both sexes since 2008.
Over the years, the event has paved the way for the some of the sport’s biggest stars, with a raft of players having gone on to represent the nation, including Commonwealth Games gold medallist Mark Casey, world champions Rebecca Van Asch, Kelsey Cottrell and Natasha Scott, while the youngest Australian Jackaroo, 20 year-old Dylan Fisher took home the coveted singles medallion in 2010.
All teams will be represented by boys and girls in singles, pairs, triples and fours disciplines, with points awarded for the individuals results going towards the team’s total tally.
Teams are divided into two pools, with NSW, Victoria, Northern Territory and Western Australia in pool 1, while Tasmania, Queensland, South Australia and the ACT are situated in pool 2 this year.
The draw isn’t the best outcome for the host state, who are attempting to claim their maiden gold medal from the event, positioned in the pool of death against last year’s boys’, girls’ and overall champions, the Blues, and the Sandgropers, who completed the same feat 12 months prior.
Top Enders came agonisingly close to the ultimate prize in Sorrento, Western Australia last year, with a silver medal finish in the blue-ribbon boys singles, but the territory’s hopes will rest squarely on another player’s shoulders on their home deck this year, with Marcus Simpson tasked with with going one step further than Owen Short, who bows out due to age restrictions.
While they have never claimed a medal or trophy from the tournament, Northern Territory will look to benefit from the home ground advantage, naming an impressive list of young local talent, including Darwin’s 16 year-old Shae Smith, bolstered by some reinforcements from Broome in Western Australia, given there’s just eight affiliated bowls clubs in the Top End.
More than just medals will be on the line next week however, with National Coach Steve Glasson and National Selector Dave Stockham present to cast a watchful eye over the proceedings before announcing up to 20 members for the 2014-15 Australian Under-18 squad.
The 2014 Australian Under-18 Championships will commence at Nightcliff Bowls Club on Monday, September 29 at 9.00am, after the formalities of the opening ceremony, and conclude on the afternoon of Thursday, October 2 with the announcement of the Australian Under-18 squad.
Spectators are encouraged to take advantage of the free admission at Nightcliff Bowls Club to watch bowls’ bright stars in action.
Click here for more information on the 2014 Australian Under-18 Championships , including a downloadable file of the event program booklet.
Caption: Pint sized youn-gun Marcus Simpson will endeavor to hunt down a blue-ribbon singles gold medal at next week’s Australian Under-18 Championships.