Queenslanders Back L-R: Lynsey Clarke, Grant Fehlberg, Jake Fehlberg, Helen Boardman, Peter Doherty, Barrie Lester, Serena Bonnell. Front L-R: LtoR Cheryl Lindfield, Damien Delgado

Jackaroos Leave No Stone Unturned to Find Gold on British Soil

by jgrey

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A cohort of champion Australian lawn bowlers will travel to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games in July seeking to add to their golden reputations on the international circuit.
 
The combined Jackaroos squad of 18 Team Members contains a well-balanced mix of gold medallists and emerging talents seeking a first for the Aussies at the Commonwealth Games – gold medal victor on English soil.
 
For all the success Australia has enjoyed in elite international competitions, the tactical challenges posed by the slower, heavier greens in the United Kingdom have always stymied our bowlers.
 
To assist in the squad’s preparations, the Jackaroos have created a practice green at Mount Tamborine in south-east Queensland that mirrors the ones they will play on at Birmingham, getting them used to the English conditions.
 
Victorian Aaron Wilson, Queenslander Jake Fehlberg and Tasmanian Rebecca Van Asch have all stood atop the podium for their nation at previous Commonwealth Games and will headline this all-star bowling line-up.
 
Fehlberg, a vision-impaired bowler, visited the United Kingdom in 2019 as part of his plan to launch an assault for gold at the Birmingham Games.
 
Gold Coast gold medallist Jake Fehlberg, a vision-impaired bowler, is hoping to defend his gold medal in the mixed B2/B3 pairs event and is excited to share the experience again with his dad Grant.
 
“For Dad and me, winning gold on the Gold Coast with Lynne and Bob (Seymour) was an awesome experience,” Fehlberg said.
 
“It is great to be heading to our second Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, and it’s pretty cool to be going to the Games and experiencing it all with Dad.
 
“I’m excited to be playing with Helen and Peter and hope we can bring home the gold in Birmingham.”
 
Two-time Gold Coast Games gold medallist Rebecca Van Asch can’t wait to back at the Commonwealth Games and is looking forward to the challenge against the best players in the Commonwealth.
 
“The Gold Coast Games were an incredible moment for me, winning two golds with my teammates, celebrating with family and friends,” Van Asch said.
 
“I am looking forward to the challenge of the Birmingham Games, it is the highest honour competing for Australia at the Games, and I can’t wait to be over there.”
 
Aside from the defending Gold Coast gold medallists, Lynsey Clarke and Barrie Lester bring a wealth of experience to the Australian squad heading to Birmingham.
 
Clarke, 38, from Queensland, was a gold medallist in the women’s pairs at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006 and is heading to her fourth Games. She has won gold medals at the World Outdoor Championships and Asia Pacific Bowls Championships and represented Australia on more than 400 occasions.
 
Heading to his third Commonwealth Games, three-time medallist Lester is ready for the Birmingham Games and believes the selected team will also be representing those who missed out.
 
“I am thrilled to be heading to the Birmingham Commonwealth Games and can’t wait to be representing Australia again at the Games,” Lester said.
 
“I have grown so much as a player since my debut at the Melbourne 2006 Games, and as I head to my third Commonwealth Games, I feel like I’m bowling the best I ever have.
 
“We have such an exciting group of bowlers heading to Birmingham, 11 of them are debutants… we are like one big family, so I can’t wait to share my experience and my knowledge with my Jackaroo teammates to make sure we are all at our best at the Games.
 
“I feel for those have has missed out as well, but this team has such a strong culture and know that they will be cheering us on as we head to Birmingham.”

Para-bowler Serena Bonnell is aiming to match the deeds of her Commonwealth Games gold-medal winning husband Tony Bonnell when she makes her debut in Birmingham.

Sydney-based bowler Carl Healey is another Commonwealth Games newcomer, but he is well prepared for the pressures of international competition, having represented Australia more than 20 times. He will be cheered on by his mother, father and cousin, who have all played lawn bowls.

Kristina Krstic is the sole West Australian representative on the team and another debutante. She has been playing lawn bowls since she was nine and has made more than 70 international appearances.

Queenslander Damien Delgado, who bowls for Club Tweed in Tweeds Head, is compiling an enviable resume despite juggling parenting duties as a father to three young children.

Delgado, who lost a leg in a car accident in his twenties, was honoured to win the Bowls Australia Bowler with a Disability Award last year and is sky-high on confidence as he aims for a gold medal in Birmingham.

Commonwealth Games Australia Team Chef de Mission Petria Thomas OAM said the diligence the Australian Jackaroos have displayed in the preparation for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games was impressive.
 
She is confident the team, which has left no stone unturned in a bid to find a winning recipe for the UK, will carry on from their outstanding performance on the Gold Coast in 2018.
 
“Today’s selection is a special day for the Jackaroos who will be representing Australia at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games,” Thomas said.
 
“Their selection to the Australian Team is a testament to and a result of their hard work and commitment to their sport… it is an exciting mix of defending gold medal champions, returning alumni and debutants.
 
“The preparation for the lawn bowls team has come down to replicating almost the exact green conditions they will be playing on at Leamington Spa, giving our Jackaroos the best chance to be bold, brave and brilliant in Birmingham.”
 
Bowls Australia CEO Neil Dalrymple was thrilled for the 18 Jackaroos selected to represent Australia at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and knows that they will be giving it their all at the Games.
 
“On behalf of Bowls Australia, I congratulate the 18 Jackaroos who have been selected for the Australian Commonwealth Games team in Birmingham,” Darlrymple said.
 
“We have nominated an exciting group of talented bowlers who are ready to showcase their skills against the best players from across the Commonwealth. We are so proud of each of them and can’t wait to be cheering for them all at the Games.”
The Commonwealth Games is widely regarded as one of the most prestigious events in lawn bowls, so all eyes will be on the competition when it gets rolling at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. Lawn bowls has featured at every edition of the Commonwealth Games since they began in 1930 except for the Games in Kingston, Jamaica in 1966 because no suitable facilities were available.
 
Birmingham 2022 will see a record 11 gold medals up for grabs in lawn bowls. Australia has never
won a gold medal in lawn bowls at a Commonwealth Games held in England, Wales or Scotland.

Returning alumni Natasha Van Eldik and Rebecca Van Asch join Gold Coast teammate Carla Krizanic as Australia’s most successful lawn bowlers at the Commonwealth Games with two gold medals each.
The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games will be held from Thursday 28 July to Monday 8 August with the Lawn Bowls competition to be conducted from Friday 29 July through to Saturday 6 August with the competition to be held at Victoria Park at Leamington Spa.