Any bowler, young or old, new or elite, aims to reach the National Finals – the pinnacle of the outdoors season, in Royal Leamington Spa. You put in so much time, effort, dedication and passion in the three or so months leading up to it, cramming matches into the week, and travelling around the county, and even other counties if you manage to progress.
Thursday 10th August commenced this year’s National Finals, sponsored by Aviva, and the following 18 days would be full of enthralling games, with nearly 2,800 qualifiers from all over the country, battling it out through numerous rounds to be crowned a National Champion, and even go on to represent England and next years’ British Isles.
This year, I managed to qualify in six disciplines – Women’s Fours, Junior Pairs and Junior Singles, along with the Women’s Champion of Champions, Top Club and Johns Trophy. That, in itself, was a massive achievement, and to be able to show off your own best talent at the Nationals in the hopes of getting recognised by England selectors is what you just hope for.
So, the Fours started on the 10th of August. 6 more games stood between myself and my teammates, and a chance at the National title. We are a new team, with this being our first year together, so we were certainly the underdogs, however, we just wanted to enjoy the experience. 3 games later, we reached the QFs, which got streamed! (link below). 2 games later, we are now in the final! The top two women’s fours teams in the country. Being 10-4 down after 5 of the 18 ends was not the start we wanted, but picking 1s and 2s and only dropping small counts kept us well in the game. On the 15th end, we are 1 down, and my skip, Debbie, plays an amazing bowl to take up their shot for us to lie 3, bringing us to 17-14 up and making a 4-shot turnaround. Fast forward to the 18th and final end, we are now 18-16 up with only the skips’ bowls to come. Now 1 down, the opposition’s last bowl could not have been more perfect for the two they needed for an extra end. It came up to our bowl, sat ours up and for a split second, was the second shot they needed. Our bowl sat back and sat theirs out for them to only lie one, and we WIN the National Fours 18-17! It is a feeling that cannot be described and still definitely has not sunk in! We go on to represent England in the British Isles Championships being held in Leamington in 2024!
Anything that came after that incredible win was a bonus. Fast forward to the end of the Nationals, I’ve walked away with a National title and been in two very close finals, a Semi-Final, and two Last-16s, and I could not be happier!