In a little over two months, nations from all around the world will descend on the Broadbeach Bowls Club to contest the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Heading into the Games as hosts, much will be expected of our Jackaroos but there are several other extremely talented nations in their own right who will look to threaten the Aussies.
The team will be spearhead by the doyen of Malaysian bowls, Siti Zalina Ahmad, a two-time Games gold medalist in singles and the only women to have ever done so. She will be supported by the likes of Glasgow fours silver medalist Emma Firyana Saroji, multiple Games medalist Fairul Izwan Abd Muin and another Glasgow hero in Muhammad Hizlee Abdul Rais, who took out the pairs silver medal with the aforementioned Fairul. Malaysia have been trialling and testing themselves on the Broadbeach greens for some time now and will definitely be contending for medals come the Games.
The Canadian squad has proven to be a competitive unit on the international stage and the selected squad for the Gold Coast Games includes some familiar names to Aussie bowls fans. Ryan Bester and Kelly McKerihen are two who have been prominent figures among the National Rankings in Australia in recent times and they will be supported by the likes of Leanne Chinery, Jacqueline Foster and Chris Stadnyk. This will be Bester’s fifth, Stadnyk’s fourth and Chinery’s third Games respectively, with the former looking to add a gold medal to his collection after collecting bronze and silver in previous Games. Greg Wilson, Ryan Stadnyk, Cameron Lefresne, Joanna Cooper and 2017 World Youth Champion Pricilla Westlake round out the lesser experienced names of the squad, adding to the strength of the team and the promising blend between youth and experience.
Ryan Bester, Leanne Chinery, Johanna Cooper, Jacqueline Foster, Cameron Lefresne, Kelly McKerihen, Chris Stadnyk, Ryan Stadnyk, Pricilla Westlake, Greg Wilson
Opposition Analysis: England
None of Northern Ireland’s medalists (silver – men’s triples & bronze – women’s pairs) from the 2014 Games have been included in the squad for the Gold Coast, allowing an opportunity for the team to perhaps un-earth a young star. However, the team is still blessed with experience, headlined by veterans Ian McClure and Martin McHugh, who both last won a Games medal (gold) way back in 1998 in the men’s fours. Names such as Donna McNally, Simon Martin, Gary Kelly and Catherine Beattie bring further Games experience to the squad, strengthening Northern Ireland’s position as no easy-beats come April.
Sandra Bailie, Catherine Beattie, Gary Kelly, Andrew Kyle, Simon Martin, Sally McAuley, Donna McCloy, Ian McClure, Martin McHugh, Erin Smith
Two-thirds of the Welsh only medal-winning discipline (triples) in Glasgow return for successive Games, with Jonathan Tomlinson and Marc Wyatt spearheading the team. The two are aptly supported by stalwart Anwen Butten, who holds multiple Games and World Championships medals but yet to obtain that elusive gold. Further to that, several more squad members will arrive in Australia with outstanding recent World Championship accolades, with Emma Woodcock a silver medalist (triples – 2016) and Jess Sims a gold medalist along with Laura Thomas (pairs – 2016). While a feel-good story to come from the para-sport squad is former teacher Julie Thomas, who will make her Games debut after only taking up the sport four years ago after losing her sight 10 years ago.
Anwen Butten, Laura Daniels, Stephen Harris, Ross Owen, Daniel Salmon, Jess Sims, Caroline Taylor, Emma Woodcock, Marc Wyatt, Jonathan Tomlinson
(Bowlers with a disability) – Julie Thomas, Pauline Wilson, Jonathan Hubbard, Raymond Lillycrop, Gilbert Miles