Teen bowler jumping for joy over selection
It was right on noon a fortnight ago when Chloe Stewart got the phone call that made her jump out of her chair, as Chris Cavangh reports for the Sunbury Leader.
Ahead of the imminent public release of the Australian lawn bowls team to take on New Zealand in a Trans Tasman battle in March, the 19-year-old was given the heads up that she had made the cut.
While not the first time the Kyneton teenager has represented Australia, it is her first selection in the open age team after spending recent years in the under-25s and under-18s.
So it was understandable that the news was met with plenty of excitement.
“I think I jumped out of the chair I was sitting in and quickly phoned my mum (Jenny),” Stewart said of her reaction.
“I didn’t really think it would happen this time, that’s for sure.
“I can’t believe it but I’m so excited it has happened.
“It’s one of the highest honours, to be playing for your country.
“And to do it in the senior ranks is just awesome.”
Not just a member of the Jackaroos’ women’s team, Stewart is in fact leading it for the test match in a baptism by fire after being named to carry Australia’s hopes in the blue-ribbon singles discipline.
The selection comes after a big 12 months which has seen Stewart rapidly climb the ranks, her achievements including claiming the women’s world under-25 title at the World Junior Championships last November and being named Bowls Australia’s Female Under-18 Bowler of the Year.
She impressed selectors in New Zealand in December where she finished third overall at the Stuart Buttar Burnside Invitation Pairs in Christchurch — a mixed gender pairs competition that featured eight Australian high-performance teams.
“Last year in the Trans Tasman I played in the under-25s and I had an OK series,” Stewart said.
“But I think from that I learnt what I needed to work on and I really worked hard on and off the green and then had a good little win up in Broadbeach at the Junior World Cup and I had a really good week in Christchurch.
“It’s just been a lot of hard work but it’s definitely paying off I think.
“It makes me think if you do work hard the rewards will come.”
It is clear Stewart has come a long way since her days of watching grandma Val Carey playing bowls on the greens at Kyneton during school holidays, after which she decided to take up the sport at age eight.
Australian team officials are hopeful the Trans Tasman test will be just the start, too.
“(Chloe’s) selection is a testament not only her ability to perform on the green, but also her level headedness and maturity beyond her years, and I’m confident that this will be the start of a long an illustrious career,” Australian Jackaroos national coach Steve Glasson said.
The best-of-three Trans Tasman series will be staged at the Burnside Bowling Club in Christchurch from March 18 to 20.
Chloe Stewart is eligible to be a Sunbury Leader senior sports star nominee.
Bowls Australia would like to acknowledge the assistance and funding provided by the Australian Commonwealth Games Association to Bowls Australia for athletes in the 2015 NextGEN AUSComGames Squad program (formerly the Australian Junior Commonwealth Games Squad program).