Martin and Edwards Bristol bound

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Blackjacks Kirsten Edwards and Ray Martin will contest world honours at the revamped World Bowls Indoor Championships later this year in the UK.

Nelson’s Kirsten Edwards and Wellington’s Ray Martin will be flying the New Zealand flag in the northern hemisphere later this year as the World Bowls Indoor Championships head to England, two years out from the next Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

With the International Indoor Bowls Council now having been incorporated into World Bowls, the former Indoor Championships and World Cup, historically held in Warilla, will cease to exist – instead making way for the revamped hybrid format, the World Bowls Indoor Championships.

The global event will feature both men’s and women’s singles and mixed pairs, with the tournament itself alternating between the northern hemisphere and Warilla, Australia each year.

Staging the inaugural showpiece will be Bristol, with the event sure to attract some of the world’s greatest and most promising players for the four-day event, as players vie for world championship honours.

The event presents itself as a huge opportunity for former world bowls’ representative Kirsten Edwards, who will be replacing reigning champion Jo Edwards – with Jo unable to attend due to world championship commitments.

Joining Kirsten will be Victoria’s Ray Martin, who has consistently impressed over the last few years – this year winning his maiden national title, taking out the men’s pairs with fellow Wellingtonian Robbie Bennett.

Both Martin and Edwards will compete in their respective singles disciplines, before joining forces and contesting the mixed pairs.

Commenting on her selection, Edwards said she was excited to be pulling the silver fern back on, while for Martin, he was simply counting down the days to make his international debut.

“It will be the first time in the northern hemisphere for me, and I am really looking forward to teaming up with my old club mate Ray in England,” Edwards, who formerly played out of Victoria, said.

“It will be great to team up with a Victoria player over there and even though I now live in Nelson and play for the ever supportive mighty Stoke club, the Victoria members have always continually supported me, so it will be exciting to team up with Ray who has enjoyed some great success over the past few years.”

For Martin, who alongside Edwards, was previously selected to represent New Zealand at the Hong Kong International Bowls Classic last November prior to its cancellation – the moment to represent his country has been a lifelong dream for the 29-year-old.

“When you miss out on a chance like that you do have some negative thoughts like ‘oh well that was my chance and I’ll never get another one’,” Martin said.

“[But] I’m still a pretty positive guy, so I thought as long as a I could go to some big tournaments and roll some good woods down, with some good results, then hopefully I’m still in the selector’s eyes and here we are.

“Getting selected for the world indoor champs is a pretty big selection, so I’m just looking forward to another new experience and playing for my country.”

The tournament will be staged at the City & County of Bristol Indoor Bowling Club from April 20-24, 2020.

by Sam Morton