In what has been an action-packed week on the New Zealand Para Bowls circuit, three new national champions have emerged in the singles and pairs - with the spoils going the way of Dunedin’s Darron Woolland and the pairing composite Riley Paterson and Sally Engi.
After three years of COVID-19 disruption, the Para Bowls National Championships were finally able to return to the calendar, on this occasion hosted by the Waverley Bowling Club in Invercargill - and supported by the Northend and Waihopai greens for qualifying.
The event saw 38 participants compete in the open singles and the drawn pairs format. In the singles, all competitors take to the green for four games, with three required to qualify and the remaining players ranked in order of top eight and bottom eight.
Following a play-off in both divisions, the top four compete for a medal, with the two best performing players battling it out for the gold and the other two finalists going head-to-head for the bronze.
In a commanding display on the Waverley green, Woolland proved consistently strong in the final, defeating the well-performed and vastly experienced Dennis Behrent of New Plymouth in a race to 21 shots, 21-12.
Prior to the final, Woolland, who plays out of the Waikari Club in Dunedin, had remained undefeated, with his victory closing out the title with an impressive seven consecutive wins.
Meanwhile, Paterson and Engi appeared to form a strong combination early on, recording three close wins and taking the Gold Medal in the final against Peter Horne and Arthur Brodie, 15-7.
The win prompted some vocal emotion from Paterson, who let out a big congratulatory shout before hugging his lead Engi - clearly reflecting their efforts and his pride for the accolade. Paterson was also able to secure another medal in the singles, defeating Chen Naude in the Bronze Medal playoff.
In other results, Wayne Cowley defeated M Spencer in the Plate Final, while beaten semi-finalists were C Pratt and Pam Walker. Other qualifiers in the plate included B Hales, B Sayers, K Asplin and R Abbott.
Speaking on The Bowls Hour podcast, Para Bowls New Zealand spokesperson Grant Edgar, who was on hand trying his luck among the field during the week, said it was pleasing to have the event back on the calendar and thanked all those involved.
“There’s lots of good jokes and lots of good laughter along the way . . . games are played in fantastic spirits. We have a lot of very good and very young bowlers coming through the ranks, so we’re in good health and want to encourage them to keep doing well,” Edgar said.
Edgar also thanked the Invercargill Licensing Trust, among other sponsors, and singled out tournament controller Wendy Sutherland for her efforts throughout the week.
“A huge thank you goes to all the volunteers, but particularly to tournament controller Wendy Sutherland . . . she has been running around and working tirelessly to make sure everyone is where they are supposed to be and playing who they are drawn to play . . . she’s also done a great job with live scores and updates too, she’s been amazing.”
To conclude the event in the deep south, all participants enjoyed a final day of Bowls3Five.