Two-time Australian Open (AO) fours gold medalist Chloe Stewart says the flagship event on the Australian bowls calendar has been a pivotal launchpad for her career in the sport.
Now an Australian Jackaroo, the 22-year-old ensured her women’s fours team would earn back to back AO crowns in 2017 with the decisive shot on an extra end.
Tiffany Brodie (VIC), Amelia Bruggy (VIC), Georgia White (QLD) and Stewart (QLD) currently possess one of the most formidable fours outfits in the country and are looking to produce the three-peat at this year’s instalment of the AO.
“It’s really good tournament to play against some of the best players in Australia and even the world,” she said.
“For myself, a couple of years ago no one really saw me as a backend player, but I guess with the success in the fours in the last two years that’s definitely helped my cause.
“I’ve definitely proven that I can play that position.”
At such a young age, Stewart can almost consider herself an AO ‘veteran’ having participated in a number of events from when it was held at Darebin, Melbourne.
“My first Australian was back down at Darebin in 2011 or 2012. I was only young back but then but I went in and had a crack,” she said.
“I played Malaysia’s 2006 Commonwealth Games singles gold medalist Siti Zalina Ahmad in the first-round of the singles. That was an experience in itself as I’d never played against someone that good before.
“Obviously I got beaten but I learned a lot from it. I went on and a couple of years later played in the Under 18 singles and ending up winning.
“For any young bowlers out there it’s a great chance to get some experience playing against the good players. You learn a lot and if you come away with a few wins that’s a bonus.”
Stewart, who holds the 2014 Female Junior Bowler of the Year, 2014 World Junior Cup singles gold medal and 2017 Multi-Nations fours silver medal as accolades, has seen her status on the green change from the hunter to the hunted and it’s something she’s embraced.
“It’s kind of nice. But also, it makes you realise you can’t rest on your laurels. You’ve got to keep pushing because these young kids who used to be me, are trying to beat the good players,” she said.
“I have to do what I can to keep up on my good form, keep progressing and getting better and better.”
After moving to the Gold Coast in 2015, the AO has become a true festival of bowls, with 14 days of action played across the 15 host clubs across the sunshine state between June 9 and 22.
Over 2,000 bowlers from across Australia, and indeed the world are expected to attend again, with entry being completely open to any registered bowler!
Not only is the AO the World’s Biggest Bowls Festival, it is also the richest bowls event in the world with a staggering total of over $250,000 prize money across more than 780 prize money placings in the 16 disciplines.
Bowlers can enter any one of the open disciplines on offer (singles, pairs and fours) or enter age-specific Under-18, Over-60s or Bowlers with a Disability events – for a full breakdown of the disciplines head to australianopen.bowlsaustralia.com.au!
Click here to enter in the 2018 AO!