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World Bowls Championships reflections

From August 29 – September 16, 2023, the World Bowls Championships and Champion of Champions events were staged on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia (writes Neil Dalrymple, World Bowls CEO).

This was the first World Championships to be staged in seven years due to COVID-19 and it was clear there was lots of enthusiasm and excitement from the players, officials and from the spectators about the 2023 event.
Having 43 countries attend the World Championship and 31 countries for the Champion of Champions was certainly one of the highlights, together with the excellent weather, the superb playing greens, the very helpful umpires and volunteers, the great facilities that the six host clubs provided and the excellent organisation by Bowls Australia. The addition of the para section of bowlers (for the first time) was a positive step for the sport and certainty makes our sport one of the
most inclusive.
In terms of the World Championship, this was the largest event ever staged and by making it an open event, it enabled 43 of the 57 member countries to participate.
There are always arguments about whether this number of countries showcases the sport well given that there is sometimes a disparity in results. In my view, this event is a unique and a wonderful festival of bowls which provides many countries the opportunity to test themselves against the best bowlers in the world and this is not achieved in many World Championships in other sports, which are very much elite focussed only.
There were many great stories from this event, and it was terrific to see some of the smaller bowling nations compete so well against the larger members.
For smaller nations to grow their player numbers and for new nations to join World Bowls, having the opportunity to attend a World Championship is important for their growth
and development.
World Bowls is very focussed on supporting these smaller nations with equipment, coaching and umpiring support so that they can continue to compete on the World stage!
The Champion of Champions event was staged immediately following the World Championship and with a strong field of players in attendance, we were fortunate to have a welcoming host club (Club Robina) who presented excellent playing greens which the players enjoyed.
The format of play was new and different -three sets of five ends (with a one end tie break if required) and whilst not universally popular with all players, it certainly created much interest and more important moments in each of the matches.
As a sport, we need to keep trying to introduce innovative formats that create more interest for spectators and broadcasters alike and this format for bowls plans to be used in many of our upcoming world events.
The eventual winners were Anne Nunes (USA) and Daniel Salmon (Wales) who both played consistently well all week and deserved their victories.
Once again, we had a great mix of countries making the quarter-finals with representation from all five World Bowls regions making
the finals.
Three weeks of bowls on the Gold Coast was a long stint for many of the players and officials and I know many of them were keen to get back home in the end.
For World Bowls, we were pleased with
how these events were staged and supported by the member countries, the local bowls community in Queensland and Bowls Australia.
As always, there is room for improvement and especially how we can more effectively promote and publicise the sport globally in the media. More broadcast content in addition to our excellent streaming coverage would be desirable.
So now we start the planning for the next World Championship of which the details are yet to be confirmed.
The next step in the process for World Bowls is to survey the member countries and seek feedback on the desired timing and format for the staging of these events and of course the best location for our larger events such as the World Championships.
This information will help to formalise a plan for our event schedule for the coming years.

Caption: Neil is interviewed during the event by Barrie Lester

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