Adelaide will play host to some of bowls’ preeminent players, Rob Greenwood reports for the Adelaide Advertiser.
Some of the best lawn bowlers on the planet are set to descend on South Australia after Adelaide Bowling Club secured hosting rights for the World Champion of Champions.
Bowls Australia on Saturday announced the sport’s most prestigious international singles tournament will be held at the eastern parklands venue in 2019 and 2020.
The event will feature national men’s and women’s champions from up to 30 countries and will be the biggest bowls competition in SA since the world championships six years ago.
Adelaide Bowling Club player Scott Thulborn, who claimed the Champion of Champions crown in 2016, said the title was the pinnacle of his glittering career.
“It’s a one-of-a-kind event and you get the best-of-the-best, so it’s a really fierce competition,” said Australian Jackaroo Thulborn, also the club’s full-time greenkeeper.
“I can still see the podium from when I won it and I wish it could be me up there again.
“Our club’s just as nice as any club in the world and it’s pretty exciting that we get the chance to show that.”
Bowlers must win their club, state and national singles championships to qualify for the tournament, which has been staged annually since 2003.
Another Adelaide player, Cassandra Harvey, said it would be a dream to represent her country on her home greens, after finishing fifth at the Australian titles last year.
“It’s really something to look forward to and push for a bit harder,” Harvey, 22, said.
“Our local players very rarely get to watch these amazing bowlers because a lot of the big tournaments are played in the eastern states.
“Having that next level of bowls here in our state will be amazing.”
The week-long event will be held in late November or early December and is expected to bring thousands of players, support staff and spectators to Adelaide.
Bowls SA chief executive Mark Easton hoped it would act as a springboard to attract more international bowls tournaments to the state.
“It’s probably the pinnacle event of the sport and it will obviously build the profile of bowls in the state,” Easton said.
“We’re determined to secure the event long-term here and if there’s other (international) events on offer, then we’d certainly like to have a go at them as well.”
Bowls Australia chief operating officer Tony Sherwill said the club, which was established in 1897, had impressed governing body World Bowls.
“Adelaide with its proximity to the airport, beautiful greens and history really lends itself to being at the top of everyone’s minds when selecting a host club,” Sherwill said.
“Everybody loves coming here and they could host any event in the bowls world quite comfortably.”
Organisers hope the announcement of the tournament would help secure government funding to upgrade the venue’s changerooms, disability access and car parking.
Lord Mayor Martin Haese supported potential improvements to best showcase Adelaide to an international audience.
“Our team are already working with the club leaders … to look at how we can assist to make sure these facilities are everything they should be to host an international event,” Haese said.
“The coverage that this will give Adelaide across a network of countries is phenomenal.”
Caption: Adelaide players Cassandra Harvey and Scott Thulborn are looking forward to the parklands club hosting the World Champion of Champions. Picture: Tom Huntley.