The New Zealand Bowls Team competing in the Asia Pacific Championships in June has ages ranging over 4 decades on the 10 person squad with Katelyn Inch the youngest at 24 and Mike Kernaghan rounding out the team at 64.
The 40 years of age diversity is a coincidence with the team selected based on performance by the 3 person panel made up of Phil Skoglund (Coverner) Peter Belliss (Head Coach) and Marlene Castle.
“Our job is to pick the best team to represent New Zealand,” said Skoglund, “We have fabulous bowlers in this country, and we’re looking for those who we believe can lift the team to compete against very tough international pressure.”
The selectors have been watching the New Zealand high-performance squad of 19 closely over the summer before selecting the final team of 10. The team members have competed together in the past in varying combinations although for some this was over a decade ago. Head coach Peter Belliss is well aware of the intense competition.
“This may ‘only’ be the Asia Pacific championships, but there’s a lot of top-level players and countries : Australia; Malaysia; Canada; Fiji; Norfolk Island to name a few”. Belliss acknowledges there are pressures that can hinder a winning score “Our psych John Quinn is a huge part of that. Once you’ve got the skills – and all the players have at this level – then it’s down to the 6 inches between the ears. Our minds have a huge part to play.”
The Asia Pacific Games which run every 4 years is a qualifying event for the World Bowls Championships in 2020 and of course the New Zealand Team is aiming to be one of the 12 countries to qualify. Shannon McIlroy who will compete in both singles and pairs at the Asia Pacific games is the current men’s singles world champion and the New Zealand Men’s team are the current world champions.
Last held in Papanui in Christchurch in 2015, the 2019 games will be held on the Gold Coast, Australia from the 18th – 28th June.
The women’s team is made up of Jo Edwards (49 – singles and pairs), Kirsten Edwards (28 – pairs and fours), Val Smith (54 – triples and fours), Katelyn Inch (24 – triples and fours) and Wendy Jensen (55 – triples and fours).
The men’s team are Shannon McIlroy (32 – singles and pairs), Gary Lawson (54 – pairs and fours), Ali Forsyth (40 – triples and fours), Jamie Hill (38 – triples and fours) and Mike Kernaghan (64 – triples and fours)