“My goal was to win one national title; to win two was amazing”- Sophie Tolchard on her incredible season

Sophie Tolchard is still riding high after an incredible outdoor season.

Having qualified through to Leamington in the two wood singles, four wood singles, pairs, triples and fours, she returned home to Devon with the national fours and singles titles.

“I am really delighted with how this season has panned out and that’s the first time I have got through in all of those events,” Sophie said.

“I was pretty pleased with that and how I was playing going in to Leamington, especially because Devon is so tough to get out of. We have played in some difficult matches along the way.

“So because I got through in five I was hopeful that I would be in with a chance in one of them. I set myself the goal of winning one, so to win two was amazing.”

Sophie said it was important for her to focus on getting through to Leamington after competing in the Commonwealth Games earlier this year, in which she failed to return home with a medal.

She said: “It was a disappointment in Australia and I came away from there lacking a bit of confidence, that’s why coming away with two national titles from the outdoor season was more than I expected.

“Leading the fours with Lorraine, Kelly and Nat I was pretty happy with how I was playing and I think all the games I had played on the greens set me up going in to the singles.

“My motto is to get my first two bowls pretty close because then it takes the pressure off.”

One of Sophie’s most challenging opponents on the way to the singles title was Kirsty Richards.

Sophie said: “I had mixed emotions about playing Kirsty although I was really up for it.

“When I came back to defend my first singles win I met her in the first round and lost. Then last year I was 12-20 down to her and came back to 20 all, only to lose.

“Kirsty was yipping quite badly during the game and it was all very dramatic at the end.

“This year I was really determined to come back and give her a game. Sam actually gave me some advice going in to the game and I thought ‘that’s what I am going to think about when I am playing.

“He said, ‘just keep your cool and keep calm.

“I thought to myself that I was not going to look at Kirsty delivering her bowl, just stand back. So I looked at everything else! I was 10-0 up and I won 21-12 which I was really pleased about.”

Sophie faced Amy Gowshall in the final.

She recalled: “I had won my semi-final before Amy had finished hers and I deliberately came away from the green, thinking ‘whoever wins wins.

“I didn’t want to have time to sit and stew about it or let me mind run away with me. Amy is brilliant and has achieved so much. The form that Amy has been in this year and her singles record speaks for itself.

“I just kept thinking that I needed to get off to a good start and again my first two bowls were really good.

“I was leading 10-2 which I couldn’t quite believe but just kept thinking to myself that I couldn’t have a bad end and have her change the length I was playing well to.

“I think that the 18, 19 and twentieth shots are the hardest to get.

“It was not until after the game that I realized that was the biggest shot difference I had, 21-5, which I would never have predicted.”

This month’s Bowls International features action and results from the Bowls England National Championships at Leamington Spa.
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