Australian international duo and best mates Josh Thornton and Barrie Lester are eager to repeat their 2017 Australian Open winning heroics at this year’s instalment.
2018 Commonwealth Games gold and dual silver medalists respectively, the pair stole the heart of the Australian bowls community with their memorable last year.
Thornton and Lester were special guests of host Jack Heverin on SEN 1116’s weekly radio program dedicated to bowls, ‘Without Bias’.
Both are excited at contesting in multiple disciplines at this year’s Australian Open which is just 23 days away.
“I’ve been going up there since 2015 when the Australian Open was shifted up to the Gold Coast,” Thornton said.
“For me, it’s still the best place to play bowls in the country and particularly at the right time of the year.
“I get to play in all the open events. I’ve had some success winning the Men’s Pairs last year but also going deep in the Fours of the previous two years as well.
“I also get to play in the disability events and I won both the Singles and Pairs the first year of that too. I’m quite lucky that I have a number of options going to play up there.”
Lester echoed his teammate’s sentiments, with last year’s triumph decisive for both players in being selected in Australia’s Commonwealth Games squad, a now run and won highly successful campaign.
“When you look to your left and you see one of your mates is a high-quality bowler, yes Josh has a disability, but it’s basically playing for each other and going out there and having a good time,” he said.
“We stay together, we eat out and we just try and make it a good trip of it. We never doubt each other’s ability and what we are capable of.
“Of course in the sport of bowls, you need a few things to go your way… We lost our first game at the Australian Open last year and this is what makes it even better.
“We went undefeated after that and came through with the gold… Growing up and playing a lot of team sport is why I love playing bowls.”
Often associated with the Australian Open, the ‘World’s Biggest Bowls Festival’, is the atmosphere and relaxed nature of it being staged in the sunshine state.
Thornton said that drawcard just adds to the spectacle of the event.
“It’s the only chance you might get to play against the best players in the world and that’s an experience in itself,” he said.
“It’s a great holiday destination. I’ve always said to people, treat it as a two-week holiday. If the bowls go really well that’s a bonus but if it doesn’t, you’ve got the theme parks, the nightlife, the restaurants. It’s a great place to go and visit.”
Listen to this week’s edition of Without Bias here