Falkland Islands lawn bowler Chris Locke was overcome with emotion when he first set foot on the greens of Victoria Park, the venue for the lawn bowls events at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
The 63-year-old, who took up the sport only 18 months ago, prepared for the tournament with his team-mates in a school corridor in Falklands capital Stanley on a makeshift rink of short mat bowls rolled out and held down with tape.
“There are classrooms coming off each end of the corridor, so we have to train after school hours and dodge the cleaners as they are coming in,” said Locke, who will compete in the men’s singles and pairs (with Garry Tyrrell) at the Games.
The Falkland Islanders hope to have their first outdoor bowls green finished by the end of the year, in time for the southern hemisphere summer, and plan to play indoor bowls at the 2023 International Island Games in Guernsey.
“We’ve been training three or four times a week and every weekend since Christmas, which might not seem a lot for other athletes, but for us we really committed ourselves to it,” Locke said.
Locke has previous experience of a major multi-sport event, but not as an athlete. He appeared in the role of industrial worker during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics.
The Falklands had representatives in lawn bowls at Delhi 2010 and Glasgow 2014, but the bowlers were former residents who had already emigrated.
Locke is part of a team of five, all full-time Stanley residents who started their journey after finding some bowls in the corner of the school hall.
They include 49-year-old teacher Andrea Stanworth, who will play in the women’s triples event with Trudi Clarke and Daphne Arthur-Almond.
“I’m still in a bit of a daydream about it all and I can’t really believe I’m here,” Stanworth said. “It’s brilliant to get on the grass now, because we only play on the mats in the Falkland Islands.”
Stanworth is keen to learn as much as possible about technique and strategy from her opponents so she can take her experiences back to Stanley and share them with the Islands’ small but enthusiastic bowls community, as well as inspire her excited pupils.
Bowls International is the world’s most respected bowling magazine, available monthly in both digital and print formats.
The daily schedule and results throughout the Games can be found here. A comprehensive Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games supplement (preview) is included in July’s issue of Bowls International, with a comprehensive review scheduled for inclusion in the October issue.
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