Ali Forsyth-Blackjack

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Date of birth: 11/12/79
Place of birth: Nelson
Clubs: Clayton (Melbourne) & Nelson
Year started bowling: 1996/97 season
International debut: 2005
Cap number: 95
Caps: 423
National titles: 9 (singles 2003, 2004 & 2014, pairs 2013, 2016 & 2018 & fours 2011, 2012 & 2018)
World Bowls medals: 1 gold (fours 2016) & 3 bronze (singles 2008 & triples 2012 &2016)
Nickname: Ali G
Occupation: Club coach/bar supervisor
Interests outside bowls: Golf (once a week during the off-season if he can) & watching sport

Ali Forsyth has been a near ever-present member of the Blackjacks since making his international debut in 2005 and sits behind only Jo Edwards, Val Smith and Rowan Brassey in games played for New Zealand.

Along what he labels a rocky road he’s won a world championship, nine national titles and a raft of international medals.
Like Edwards and Smith, Forsyth started his bowls career in Nelson, joining the Stoke club after deciding he wasn’t going to make it in rugby or cricket, despite playing for the 1st XV and 1st XI at Nayland College.

It took the self-coached Forsyth little over six years to make his mark domestically, winning the national singles title in Wellington in 2003, less than a month after his 23rd birthday. He repeated the feat in Christchurch in 2004 and New Zealand selectors took notice.

Forsyth was picked to represent the Blackjacks at the 2005 Asia Pacific Championships in Melbourne and while he was overlooked for the Commonwealth Games the following year he announced himself to the world by winning gold at the next Asia Pacific Champs, beating Canada’s Ryan Bester in the singles final in Christchurch.

It helped secure him the singles berth for the 2008 world championships. He had to settle for bronze in the discipline, but he helped the New Zealand men win the team gold. The tournament was also significant for Forsyth off the green as it’s when he met his now fiancée, Canadian international Kelly McKerihen.

After another Asia Pacific gold in the singles in 2009, Forsyth was selected in the discipline for the Delhi Commonwealth Games. He returned home empty-handed after losing in the quarter-finals and it marked the beginning of the end of his time as New Zealand’s singles player. A year later he was told he was being moved into the triple and four and that’s where his focus has been since. While his drawing game was put on the backburner, his competitive fire emerged as a skip. “My aggressive nature I think makes me a little bit unpredictable and hard for other teams to really defend.”

After a silver and a bronze at the 2011 Asia Pacific Championships in Adelaide, Forsyth was retained in the triple and four for the following year’s world championship in the same city. He had mixed results, returning home with a bronze medal in the triples, but his four failed to get out its section. The 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow would prove even more disappointing. Now skip for both teams, he suffered another quarter-final exit in the triples, while his four were made to pay for a draw with Malaysia in section play, falling short of the top eight.

Attentions quickly turned to the 2016 world championships in Christchurch as a chance to make amends. Forsyth started the year by winning the national pairs title with his dad Neville and bookended 2016 with a world title. Playing with Mike Nagy, Mike Kernaghan and Blake Signal, Forsyth’s four was in a class of its own, winning all nine of its section games before decimating Scotland and Australia in the semi-final and final respectively. Forsyth also claimed another world championship bronze in the triples to help the New Zealand men again win the team title.

The Commonwealth Games though continued to be major stumbling block for Forsyth and his teams. Despite going unbeaten in pool play in both the triples and fours on the Gold Coast, they both fell to resounding quarter-final defeats. It was the fourth time in three Games that he’d fallen one match short of the medal rounds. The disappointment is helping motivate him to “have another crack” at Birmingham in 2022, after which he plans to evaluate his next step.

Ali Forsyth was selected to skip the triple and four at the 2020 world championships on the Gold Coast, which have been postponed 12 months.