18 February 2014
With the Commonwealth Games set to take place in Glasgow, Scotland, from 23 July, South Africa’s leading lawn bowlers, winners of three gold medals in Delhi in 2010, showed strong form at the Warwick/Bowls South Africa Masters Singles Championships at the Wanderers Club on the weekend.
In brutal heat, 80 of the country’s top players were in action in the Open, Seniors and Junior divisions, supported by ever increasing banks of spectators.
In a battle between two bowlers in the women’s squad for Glasgow, Tracy-Lee Botha, a 24-year-old prodigy, won gold in a tough encounter with 2009 champion Susan Nel to secure a remarkable third victory in five years by a 21-15 margin.
Esme Steyn, another member of the provisional Games squad, took bronze along with academic Glenda Matthews, who narrowly missed a tilt for gold on shot difference after six qualifying victories in seven matches.
In the men’s event, classy Nic Rusling, the runner-up last year, went one better in a fascinating, hard-fought clash with Clinton Roets, triumphing 21-14, after holding a 20-8 lead at one point.
Bronze went to former Commonwealth Games singles champion Bobby Donnelly, also named in the squad for Glasgow, on home greens, and Shawn Janse van Vuuren.
Afterwards, Bowls SA president Allan Freeman declared himself pleased with the form shown by the national squad. “South Africa’s lawn bowls Proteas topped their medals table at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India, and one confidently expects more of the same in this year’s event,” he said.
“Our bowlers acquired three gold medals, of the 12 total earned by the SA team of 125 athletes in Delhi.
“Our 2014 bowls team will be world class. Especially heartening is the inclusion of Prince Neluonde, who on sheer merit has ploughed his way through to the final selection.
“The high standard of international bowls means most encounters will be hard-fought, but I confidently predict Glasgow gold.”
The 11-day Games’ bowls programme includes fully integrated competing Para-Sport athletes, and South Africa’s world champion disabled players will also be in the hunt for more gold medals.
The weekend’s Masters senior events were won by Ellie van Coller, who grabbed her third title from Marina Brink, and debutant Theuns Fraser, who defeated triple champion Eddie Fann.
Darryn Stephen and Jacqui Janse van Rensburg won the Junior titles.
PROVISIONAL COMMONWEALTH GAMES SQUAD
Women: Tracy-Lee Botha (Johannesburg), Susan Nel (Rustenburg), Colleen Piketh (Johannesburg), Esme Steyn (Johannesburg), Santjie Steyn (Boland), Sylvia Burns (WP)
Men: Gerry Baker (Johannesburg), Bobby Donnelly (Johannesburg), Jason Evans (Johannesburg) Rudi Jacobs (Heilbron), Prince Neluonde (Johannesburg), Pierre Breitenbach (Potchefstroom)
Coaches: Theuns Fraser (Sables), Jessica Henderson (Margate). Manager: Allan Freeman (East London).
DISABILITY BOWLS SQUAD
Blind: B2/B3 Pairs: Gywndolene Nel (B2)/Hermanus Scholtz (B3); Directors: Geoffrey Newcombe/Johanna van Rooyen. Non-travelling reserves: Diana du Plessis (B2)/Phillipus Walker (B3); Directors: Desmond du Plessis/Luke Janse van Vuuren
Disabled: B6/7/8 Trips: Derrick Lobban (B7)/Roger Hagerty (B6)/ Deon van der Vyver (B6). Non-travelling reserve: Willem Viljoen (B8). Manager: Brian Sneag