by bqmedia

The Jackaroos and their supporters will remember the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games for a very long time, after Aussie bowlers topped the medal podium multiple times at Royal Leamington Spa.

Winning three gold and two silver medals, this was Australia’s second most successful Games in history, only outdone by the five gold medals won at Gold Coast 2018 and the best medal tally ever claimed by Aussies in the Northern Hemisphere.

Ellen Ryan is the first Australian to win the women’s singles at the Commonwealth Games, as well as the first player in history to take home the singles and pairs gold at the same event, male or female thanks to her second gold medal won with Kristina Krstic in the pairs. It was only the second time an Australian had featured in a women’s singles Commonwealth Games final (Karen Murphy was the first in 2002).

The men’s singles triumph by Aaron Wilson, winning the event back-to-back, made him the first player since David Bryant in 1978 to defend the men’s singles title. Aaron won gold four years ago on the Gold Coast. He joins Bryant as the only player to ever win multiple men’s singles gold medals. After Ellen Ryan’s earlier win, it also became the first time one nation has claimed both men’s and women’s singles titles at a Commonwealth Games.

Queenslander Barrie Lester claimed a fourth career medal with a silver in the men’s triples to equal Karen Murphy and Nathan Rice with the most ever medals won by Australian bowlers at the Games.

Barrie received the Commonwealth Games Federation flag on behalf of the Victoria 2026 Commonwealth Games at the Birmingham 2022 Closing Ceremony. Barrie handed the flag to Her Excellency the Honourable Linda Dessau AC, Governor of Victoria for the journey to Australia.

Barrie said the camaraderie was first class from everyone and wherever they went, people were supportive. “It was probably the best bowls venue I have ever played at in my life,” Barrie said. “Victoria Park is very scenic and pretty.

The greens were better than we thought and our prep was perfect, as we had started going over there in about 2018/19. I can’t think of anything we could have possibly done differently,” he said.

“We probably just fell short of gold by one or two deliveries. The silver meant a lot because we hadn’t won any medals on British soil and we broke that barrier. It was an amazing achievement from everyone, and not just those with the medals. The way everyone prepared, gee they played well.”

Damien Delgado and Chris Flavel faced Scotland in the final of the para men’s pairs competition, guaranteed to add another medal to the tally. The gold wasn’t to be for the pair, with Scotland proving a strong side and defeating them by 7-16.

At first, Damien was really disappointed with missing out on the gold medal, but said once he spoke to family and friends, the disappointment quickly went away and he was extremely happy to win a silver medal.

“We had so much support and so many hours on the English greens; I just felt the Scottish skip played some great bowls and he made the difference,” Damien said. “Having input from Ellen Faulkner and Andy Thompson, who have played on the greens at Leamington Spa for so many years, was a major factor with the team being so successful,” he said.

“I’m just so grateful that I had the opportunity to compete at the Commonwealth Games. I couldn’t have done it without the support from my wife and kids, who have sacrificed a lot to allow me to play bowls. Also, the support from Club Tweed has been amazing. Hopefully I can be in Bendigo in four years’ time and my family and friends can come and watch!”

In the para women’s pairs, Cheryl Lindfield and Serena Bonnell became the nation’s first ever non-visually impaired female para medallists, claiming Australia’s third silver medal after they were unable to match a strong Scottish side in the final of the para women’s pairs. A three on the eighth end held Australia in good stead to level scores at 5-5, but it was one-way traffic for Scotland from there with a Scottish win of 17-5 with an end to spare.

Serena said it was brilliant to win a medal. “Obviously, in the moment, you want it to be the right colour, which is gold,” she said. “But to walk away with a medal at your debut games, the first time para women get an opportunity to compete in lawn bowls, is pretty amazing.”

“Bowls Australia did an amazing job in helping us prepare, as did Mt Tamborine, in preparing a green that replicated the surface of Leamington Spa. We got a significant amount of support in our preparation and there is absolutely nothing that we could have done any better. We had the best foot forward going into international representation on that surface.”

Cheryl said she felt very honoured to play for Australia and to come back with a medal was special. “You can live and dream about that happening, but really just the honour of playing for Australia is rewarding,” she said. To have the opportunity to play in the gold medal match and have the opportunity to play against other countries was an honour, especially seeing as it was the first time that Serena and I represented women playing para pairs at the Commonwealth Games. It would have been good to bring back the gold but to be honest, the silver feels just as special.”

“I couldn’t have asked for a better partner in Serena. I had only just returned to bowls in the last year as I have been out of the sport for a while. I think I am the first from Australia to use a wheeled walker. I’m hoping that other people will follow in my footsteps (or wheelie walker steps!) and if they see me playing maybe they think they can play as well.”

Serena summed it up by saying, “We couldn’t be prouder as a squad”.

Damien Delgado with his silver medal for the Para Men’s Pairs
Serena Bonnell with her silver medal for the Para Women’s Pairs
Cheryl Lindfield with her silver medal for the Para Women’s Pairs
Jackaroos Carl Healey, Ben Twist & Barrie Lester (QLD) with their silver medals for the Men’s Triples