Lynsey Clarke’s Australian Open Success
Back in June this year Lynsey Clarke became the first player in history to win 10 Australian Open titles across all four disciplines and at all three host regions.
The Australian Open is the biggest event on the bowls calendar, but it started with humble beginnings and has since grown into a mecca event worth $250,000. Clarke sits at the top of the winner’s circle with an extraordinary 10 titles to her name.
It seems like a lifetime ago when the Australian Open was first held at the Yarraville-Footscray BC in 2005 before moving to the Darebin International Sports Centre in 2006; when players used to qualify in their home states then travel down to Melbourne to play at the home of the 2006 Commonwealth Games in a weeklong event.
Off the back of the success for Clarke (nee Armitage) who won gold in the women’s pairs alongside Karen Murphy AM at Melbourne 06, it is fitting that the pair were teamed up for Clarke’s maiden Australian Open title. You would think it was at Darebin, but in fact it was a few years later when the Australian Open had a two-year stint in Shepparton, country Victoria.
Once the Australian Open moved back to Darebin, Clarke’s Australian Open dominance really began, winning the singles, pairs, fours and triples twice on those slow Melbourne greens!
“Darebin was a happy hunting ground for me but when the Australian Open was announced it was moving to the Gold Coast, I felt like that’s my home and that’s where I play my best bowls,” said Clarke.
Clarke’s titles didn’t start flowing in those opening years at the Australian Open’s new home, which can be seen as a testament to the quality of the event and the quality of female players entering the world’s richest bowls event.
The event itself had grown from 600 competitors to 1800 in the space of a year and all of a sudden, the Australian Open was no longer a sprint but a marathon.
It was a couple of years later when Clarke teamed up with best mates Anne Johns, Kelsey Cottrell and Rebecca Van Asch to win their second fours title; but interestingly, in showing her versatility, Clarke went from being the winning skip in Darebin to the all-important leads spot for their Gold Coast victory.
“I’d like to think that our fours team can play in whatever order, we often chop and change but it works for us,” said Clarke.
“For the last 10 years I’ve been a versatile player, it can be a good thing and also have it’s disadvantages, but whatever position I play, if I surround myself with good people then we can play in any order and still be successful.”
Clarke has won another two Australian Open Fours titles and has completed the box set, winning as a third in 2021 and a second in 2022.
When you have won 10 Australian Open titles we suspect it would be difficult picking a favourite but Clarke did recall the whopping prize on offer when she lifted the singles trophy!
“The singles was cool because it was $18,000 in prize money back then and at the time I was pin-pointed as being just a team player, so winning that singles title made me feel worthy of being a singles player on that big stage.”
Everyone wants to make it to final’s day at the Broadbeach Bowls Club because the atmosphere is like no other bowls event in the world. For Clarke it is her favourite event, aside from representative games, and now with her new coaching role, she is working with a group of talented young bowlers all hoping to achieve what she has at an Australian Open.
“The Australian Open is a really good event for our pathways players to test themselves against the best in the country, it’s a learning experience for them, when you lose, what else could you have done, what will it take to win, and they can measure themselves against others,” said Clarke.
“When my athletes are at the pointy end of the Australian Open I feel like I can give them a lot of advice on what it will take to win, and I have no doubt they will win plenty of Australian Open titles over the years, and I’ll be like a proud mum on the sidelines.”
Perhaps the biggest hurdle for our future stars of the game will be overcoming the likes of Clarke who will be hungry for that 11th title come June next year.
And what better motivation for the mum of two to make more Australian Open finals, than to be the cool mum on TV who her kids think is a total celebrity!
Queenslanders have a great record at the Australian Open so if you’ve never played in the event before, put it on your bucket list and get to the Gold Coast for June 2023!
By Kelsey Cottrell