Two of the sport’s most synonymous names, Kelvin Kerkow OAM and Rex Johnston OAM, will be elevated to Legend Status at the sport’s Hall of Fame and Awards Night next month.
The pair are the first additions to the exclusive club since Glynn Bosisto was confirmed at the inaugural staging of the Hall of Fame in 2011, and as such, are just the nation’s second and third bowls Legends.
Kerkow, 48, enjoyed a scintillating career for the Australian Jackaroos that spanned from 1995 to 2008, where he amassed more than 300 international caps and became one of the sport’s most distinguished and recognisable figures.
He created arguably the most iconic moment in bowls history when he claimed the coveted Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games men’s singles gold medal, after which, he ripped off his shirt and was chaired from the Darebin International Sports Centre arena by his teammates, draped in the Australian flag.
At a state level, he represented the Queensland Maroons on more than 350 occasions, and was inducted into the Bowls Queensland Hall of Fame in 2008.
He was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his services to the sport of bowls in 2010.
Kerkow’s story is made even more remarkable given his endured and overcame a debilitating illness, known as Guillian Barre Syndrome, which paralysed him as a child and left him requiring the aid of a walking stick to play bowls for the remainder of his life, to become one of the world’s most successful players.
Kerkow boasts a rich history with South Tweed Sports, and is a current Australian Selector.
In a similar vein, Johnston, 66, is one of the nation’s most decorated bowlers and enjoyed an illustrious international playing career from 1988 to 2004, where he pulled on the green and gold uniform on more than 300 occasions.
Johnston is the only Australian bowler to have represented his country at four consecutive Commonwealth Games, from 1990 to 2002, and secured a coveted gold medal as skip of the men’s pairs at the 1994 Victoria, British Columbia Games.
He coached Malta at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, became an Australian Selection from 2006 until his appointment as the Australian National Coach in 2009, until 2011.
On the state stage, Johnston accumulated 320 appearances for the NSW Blues, was awarded the male Bowler of the Year accolade on three occasions (1990, 1991 and 1997) and was bestowed Hall of Fame membership by Bowls NSW in 2009.
Johnston was presented with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his contribution to bowls and charitable work in 2006.
He is a member of Tuncrurry Beach Bowling Club.
Bowls Australia President Nigel Smith said Kerkow and Johnston are both thoroughly deserving of being labelled living legends.
“Kelvin and Rex are without question two of the greatest players to have ever played the sport, not just in this country, but worldwide,” Smith said.
“Both are synonymous with the sport around the world as a result of their considerable achievements, and are unquestionably living legends of bowls in Australia.”
Kerkow and Johnston will be officially instated as Legends at Bowls Australia’s 2017 Hall of Fame and Awards Night, to be staged at Crowne Plaza Surfers Paradise on October 26.
Bowls Australia celebrates and congratulates Kelvin and Rex on their forthcoming Hall of Fame Legend elevations.
Caption: Kerkow (left) and Johnston in action at Tweed Heads during the 2000 Australia v South Africa test series.