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ONES TO WATCH | Top young talents in bowls

The next generation of sporting talent is already making its mark locally and around the world. We’ve picked out some of the sport’s emerging talents to keep an eye on for future honours at international level.

Kate Argent-Bowden has enjoyed a sensational few years on the green, most recently retaining the Australian Open Under 18 girls singles crown.

She controlled the final from start to finish against up-and-coming 14-year-old Taylor De Greenlaw and was barnstorming in her 21-3 victory to claim her second junior Australian Open title.

She has previously won the South Australian women’s singles at the State Championships, the youngest player ever to do so, and while playing out of Angaston, she has also won the South Australian Under 18 singles and triples gold, while earning a silver in fours.

Argent-Bowden, aged 18, is a member of the Pathways Jackaroos squad and notes her family and mentors as the key influences on her bowling career and life in general, acknowledging their love and support throughout her life.

In a media interview when she was just 13 years old, Argent-Bowden already had sights on representing her country at a Commonwealth Games. Following the recent international retirements of Carla Krizanic and Rebecca Van Asch, could there be an opening for her at the 2026 Games in Brisbane?

Readers of Bowls International need little introduction to Sam and Adam after their exploits on the green over the past 12 months.

The pair joined up with Ian McClure and Martin McHugh to win the gold medal in the men’s fours at the Commonwealth Games last summer.

Barkley made his indoor bowling debut for Ireland in 2016, and in 2020, he won the Junior singles at the British Isles Indoor Championships.

He made his debut at Potters Resort during the 2021 World Indoor Bowls Championship competing in the singles and pairs, and in the same year became a national champion after winning the pairs with McHugh at the Irish National Bowls Championships.

McKeown won the British Isles Under 18 singles title in 2017 and followed this up two years later with the singles bronze medal at the 2019 Atlantic Bowls Championships.

Just one month later he won his first national title when winning the open singles at the Irish National Bowls Championships.

Despite only recently turning 18, Aaron Betts also has his sights set on representing his country at the Commonwealth Games – and with a list of achievements as long as his already, he’s certainly one to watch for the future.

Tipped by many on the Bowls International social media channels as both a current and future star of Scottish bowls, Aaron has won national titles at youth level both indoors and out, and possesses a sponsorship with Henselite.

At the age of just 14, he had won the Under 13, Under 17 and Under 25 singles titles at East Lothian, clinching the hat-trick with a magic display against 2016 World Junior Singles champion Joe Mower in the final of the Under 25 singles – defeating the Welshman by an astonishing 21-4 scoreline in just 12 ends.

Since then, his honours also include the national indoor Under 17 triples and fours titles, the Under 18 singles crown, and the Bowls Scotland Under 17 pairs.

When her grandmother, Mary Hargreaves, first introduced her to the sport of lawn bowls, Emma had no idea that she would be as hooked as she is now, over a decade later.

Mary was a keen ambassador to encourage and welcome youth to lawn bowling throughout Metro Vancouver, and started taking Emma out to the green too.

First appointed to the Canadian Youth Squad and the Development Squad for 2017-18, Emma accomplished a lot in her first two years in the squads.

In 2017, she competed for the first time in an adult national event at the Women’s Canadian Indoor Singles Championships, reaching the final against former Commonwealth Games star Pricilla Westlake. Earlier that year Emma partnered Pricilla to the Open Pairs title at the SIBO Championships, which is currently one of the largest cash prize competitions in North America.

Emma now lives in Australia and works as a bowls and marketing co-ordinator at Tweed Heads, known all around the world for hosting some of the best bowls events and is one of Australia’s most iconic bowling clubs, so has a great base to surround herself with Australia’s top bowlers.

With the next Commonwealth Games taking place in Australia, could there be a place for Emma in that squad with the experience she will have on the Aussie greens?

Braeden started bowling when he was about seven years old in a small club of around 30 members in the Valley of Nova Scotia.

He’s since gone on to become a three-time Canadian Junior Champion and has represented Canada at the North American Challenge and in Wales at the eight-nations test in advance of them hosting the 2019 Atlantic Championships.

Braeden recently skipped brother Liam, John Siteman and Raymond MacDonald to a silver medal at the Canadian national championships.

He has one of the best drives in the country, particularly for an Under 25 player, and his tactical skills on the draw and conversion game makes him a really tough player to beat in whatever position he’s played in on a side.

Katie is aged 17 and lives in Tenby, where she is studying for her A Levels at the town’s Greenhill School.

She first picked up a wood when she was seven years old, when she had a roll-up with her dad at Tenby BC. With an obvious talent for the game, she progressed to playing in a few of the club’s friendly matches, before joining the women’s section, aged nine. 

She made her debut for the WWLBA (Pembrokeshire county) in 2018 when she was 12 and the following year was selected for the Welsh Under 25s and the mixed Under 18s teams.

By then she had also teamed up with Katie Thomas, of Whitland, to win the Welsh Under 25 pairs, and at the time it was thought that, aged just 13, she might have been the youngest ever to win the event.

Katie has won the county Under 18s singles title three times, was Welsh Under 18s runner-up in 2021 and last year she and Thomas repeated their success in the Welsh Under 25 pairs.

After the enforced lay-off because of COVID-19, last year also saw Katie return to international action with both the Welsh juniors and Under 18s and, along with her pairs partner, is again looking forward to representing her country in the British Isles Championships later this year.

Obviously, Katie is proud of a number of her achievements, but perhaps one that stands out for her is being chosen as the Welsh Player of the Series in her debut year with the Welsh juniors when aged just 14. Teamwise, she was also particularly proud when in 2019 she helped the WWLBA win the prestigious Savegar Cup (Welsh Counties title) for the first time ever. 

More profiles will be added to this page over the coming days and weeks. The KIDS ARE ALRIGHT feature was included in February 2023 issue of Bowls International.

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