Tavistock disabled bowler Stephen Hartley and his team have won a bronze medal on their first outing to the World Bowls Championships in Australia, writes Guy Boswell.
Stephen, who plays at the Sir Francis Drake Bowls Club in Tavistock, was paired with Plymouth player Alison Yearling and directed in competition by sighted Isaac Shieh to help Stephen with strategy with coach Gilly Ainslie.
Isaac said: “What a week filled with high emotions and drama!
“I could not be prouder of Alison (directed by Jane) and Stephen for going toe-to-toe with some of the best and most experienced international bowlers in the world, and to drew with the eventual gold medalists and come home with a bronze is such an achievement.”
Stephen said: “During our first week of test matches it became apparent that bowls was a very different game in Australia.
“The grass, almost lichen, didn’t hold the woods at all — the slightest of touches sent them flying down the rink. The sea breeze off the Pacific either threw your bowls wide or dragged them straight depending on the direction of play.
“New Zealand, South Africa and Australia had an immediate advantage with conditions they were used to daily. Team England were left scratching our heads.
“Next came South Africa who I got an early lead over but their experience won the game. We beat New Zealand, putting us into a medal position and then faced the hosts.
“Incredibly we held them to a draw. I had the last bowl and should have drawn to the jack to win the match but all you can assume is that the adrenaline was still rising through me when I played the shot and landed three yards beyond my target and settling for a draw.
“For my first experience at world class level bowls to achieve bronze is incredible. Bowls England manager Mo Monkton said it was the perfect start to what will be a long career for me.”