In the days, weeks, months, years and decades to come, there will be much written and much said about the extraordinary Jo Edwards and her feats on the bowling green. The manadatory list of achievements had arguably its finest chapter added on Sunday when Edwards showed brilliance and tenaciousness to come from behind and beat Laura Daniels (Wales) 21-17 in the women’s singles final at the 21st Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in Australia.
It is Edwards’ second-straight singles gold, the superb double being achieved with victories in both the northern and southern hemispheres – a huge tribute to the former Nelson player, now based at the Pine Rivers club in Brisbane. Edwards also won gold in the pairs, with current Blackjacks coach Sharon Sims, in 2002.
Edwards’ success this time had doubt over it for much of the tournament. But whenever there was an easy exit, Edwards chose a survival strategy – in section play, when she had to win her last pool match by a large margin and did; in the semifinals, against South Africa’s Colleen Piketh, when trailing 17-15 she took all the remaining ends; and in the gold medal match against Daniels, where Edwards was down by five-shot margins twice but still came through.
She came through by simply finding a way – “scoring on the next end”.
Even though Edwards led the final 7-6, Daniels took the next four ends to reverse it to 12-7. Soon after it was 15-10, then 17-13.
But Edwards turned up the ante. She took a three, a single and a further three to take the advantage at 20-17.
On the next end, Daniels held shot, but Edwards expertly ran it off. And as Daniels’ final bowl narrowly missed, Edwards was allowed to reflect on what was a dazzling result. “It’s been a lot of hard work, but I’ve had such great support.”
In the earlier semifinal, Edwards had the better of the opening exchanges, leading 8-3, 11-6 and 14-10. But over the following five ends, Piketh took a three, a two and two singles, while Edwards could only muster a single herself. Suddenly, Piketh, just as she had done against Karen Murphy in the quarterfinals, had taken the initiative, leading 17-15. But just as happened in the final, Edwards found a way – with a three, a single and a two.
* Meanwhile, in other Blackjacks results from Sunday, the B6/B7/B8 triple of Bruce Wakefield, Barry Wynks and Mark Noble posted their third win in four games. They beat South Africa 19-11 to sit second in the event. The last qualifying match is on Monday, before the semifinals take place on Wednesday. Wakefield, Wynks and Noble are already guaranteed a place in those semifinals.
But David Stallard [with Peter Blick] and Sue Curran [with Ann Muir] crashed in the B2/B3 mixed pairs. They lost 23-5 to Scotland. They also have one further section play match on Monday, but with only one win so far and a poor differential, they will need a bit of luck to make the final four.
* In the men’s triples, that was also decided on Sunday, Scotland defeated Australia 19-14 to take gold, while Norfolk Island claimed bronze when they beat Canada 19-16. IN the women’s singles bronze medal match, Piketh won 21-17 from Kelly McKerihen (Canada).
Monday sees the final matches in the men’s pairs – Scotland against Wales – and the women’s fours – Australia versus South Africa.
* Meanwhile, all competitors are quickly back into their work on Monday, with the men playing singles and fours and the women involved in pairs and triples.
* Jo Edwards’ gold medal on Sunday is the 13 won by New Zealand in bowls at the Commonwealth Games. Eight of those have been won by men – the most recent by Ian Dickison in 1986 – and five by women. Women’s bowls was only introduced to the Games in 1982, meaning legends of an earlier era like Cis Winstanley and Elsie Wilkie never competed in the illustrious event. Edwards, with three golds, is the only Blackjack – male or female – to win more than once. The other Kiwi women to have won gold have been Marie Watson and Judy Howat (pairs, 1990) and Kate Portas (blind women, 1994), plus Sims (pairs 2002).
BLACKJACKS IN ACTION
Results day four – Sunday, April 8.
Women’s singles (Jo Edwards): semifinals, beat South Africa 21-17; final, beat Wales 21-17.
B2/B3 mixed pairs (David Stallard [with Peter Blick], Sue Curran [with Ann Muir]): lost to Scotland 23-6.
B6/B7/B8 triples (Bruce Wakefield, Barry Wynks, Mark Noble): beat South Africa 19-11.
Draw day five – Monday, April 9. NB: all times are NZT.
Men’s singles (Shannon McIlroy): 2.15pm v Jamaica; 10pm v Fiji.
Women’s pairs (Val Smith, Jo Edwards): 11.01am v Fiji.
Women’s triples (Tayla Bruce, Katelyn Inch, Mandy Boyd): 7.01pm v Zambia; 10pm v Namibia.
Men’s fours (Michael Nagy, Blake Signal, Paul Girdler, Ali Forsyth): 10pm v Cook Islands.
B2/B3 mixed pairs (David Stallard [with Peter Blick], Sue Curran [with Ann Muir]): 2.15pm v England.
B6/B7/B8 triples (Bruce Wakefield, Barry Wynks, Mark Noble): 10pm v Australia.