International bowls zero hour in South Wales

Most of the Atlantic Championships dealing in Cardiff has been done – or so we thought. Fact is, with only a spattering of games remaining before Wednesday’s all-important elimination finals, there are still a few aces in the deck to be tabled tomorrow.

At major international events sectional top finishers graduate immediately to the semi finals, while the next two best finishers are sent to the elimination rounds. Consequently, finishing on top of a section guarantees a minimum bronze medal.

And of course, a top six finish in the qualifying sections is the paramount quest of all nations participating in Cardiff. It means a place in next year’s world championships on Australia’s Gold Coast. So there is still a lot to be played for tomorrow.

Order was restored in the men’s singles competition today when defending champion Jamie Walker from England and Scottish world and Commonwealth gold medalist Darren Burnett were undefeated and regained their places at the top of the leader board of their respective sections. But the tussle for the minor placings tomorrow will make compelling viewing.

In the men’s fours Ben Thomas, Ross Owen, Stephen Harris and Jon Tomlinson from Wales again lead the way in Section 1 heading into the final qualifying day, while in Section 2 Scotland’s Ronnie Duncan, Derek Oliver, Paul Foster and Alex Marshall imposed their will on the event today, claiming wins over England and South Africa.

The South Africans – Prince Neluonde, Wayne Rittmuller, Jason Evans and Billy Radloff – had a forgettable time, losing to the Scots and to Ireland’s Aaron Tennant, Neil Mulholland, Andy Kyle and Mark Wilson in the same day.

Welsh starlets Sarah-Marie Nicholls and Ysie White lead women’s pairs Section 1, but take on the seasoned South African duo of Nici Neal and Colleen Piketh tomorrow to cement their position. In contrast England’s undefeated Rebecca Wigfield and Natalie Chestney have banked top spot in Section 2 and will be ready for whoever fronts up on Wednesday afternoon.

Likewise, in women’s triples, overnight leaders Jacqui Van Rensburg, Esmé Kruger and Anneke Snyman from South Africa collected three wins today to retain the lead in Section 1, while Scotland’s Hannah Smith, Claire Johnston and Caroline Brown face England’s Jamie-Lea Winch, Lorraine Kuhler and Sian Honnor to decide who wins Section 2 and gains direct entry to the semi finals.

Over the past eleven days the 2019 Atlantic Championships – featuring twenty-five bowling nations from the European, African and South American regions at four host clubs around the Welsh capital – Barry Athletic, Dinas Powys, Penarth Windsor and Penylan – where players of all denominations have given their all in the quest for national pride and team success.

What about the Zambians Gertrude Siama, Sophie Matipa and Eddah Mpezeni who almost moved heaven and earth to be here? They give credence to that old narrative about sport not being about winning but about competing with honour.

Zambia is one of Southern Africa’s most abundant wildernesses, where an astonishing diversity of wildlife, wonderful scenery and three great rivers – including the mighty Zambesi and its majestic Victoria Falls – shape the rhythm of life for many of its people.

Situated smack-dab in the middle of Africa’s bowls triangle – bordering with Zimbabwe, Malawi, Botswana and Namibia – Zambia has a proud heritage in bowls with many representations in world and Commonwealth Games competitions over the years. In fact, Eddah, Sophia and Gertrude, who play their bowls in the Copperbelt Province, competed in last year’s Games at Broadbeach.

However, for reasons known only to the gods of sport, the original selected Zambia men’s and women’s team for Cardiff, were left standing at the airport departure lounge in Lusaka after ‘administrative issues’ forced them to desist. There has been talk of slack visa applications, funding rejection and even bungled bowls management, but talk is cheap.

However, the ladies persisted and were eventually granted a visa in Pretoria, raised the necessary cash and hurried to Lusaka in time to board a flight bound for Heathrow – arriving in Cardiff a day before the women’s triples competition got under way. Then they upped and won their first two starts!

‘It’s simple,’ said Eddah, when asked why. ‘We love to compete in the best company we can, so we kept our spirits up; kept praying for a minor miracle – and it happened!

‘We are hopeful of doing well enough to qualify a women’s triples team for Zambia in next year’s world championships in Australia.’

Photo: Zambian internationals Sophie Matipa, Eddah Mpezeni and Gertrude Siama.

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2019 Atlantic Bowls Championships, Cardiff, Wales, UK

Day 11:

Men’s singles:

Sec.1: Rd.10: ENG (Jamie Walker) bt RSA (Pierre Breitenbach) 21-3, BOT (Remmy Kebapetse) bt NED (Frank De Vries) 21-18, WAL (Dan Salmon) bt GUE (Matt Le Ber) 21-11, JER (Ross Davis) bt IOM (Mark McGreal) 21-12, FRA (Amaury Dumont) bt KEN (Joseph Kitosi) 21-17. Rd.11: ARG (Jose Riveros) bt GUE 21-13, NED bt JAM (Mervyn Edwards) 21-10, KEN bt IOM 21-19, WAL bt BOT 21-19, ENG bt JER 21-20,.

Current standings: ENGLAND 27 points +75 shots, RSA 24 +61, WAL 21 +52, JER 18 +4, BOT 15 -15, KEN 13 -4, ARG 12 -2, FRA 12 -44, NED 9 -7, IOM 9 -26, GUE 7 +1, JAM 0 -95.

Sec.2: Rd.8: SCO (Darren Burnett) bt NAM (Cabous Olivier) 21-16, TUR (Ozkan Akar) bt BRA (Joao Correa) 21-4, ZIM (Myles Hopper) bt HUN (Zoltan Pavelka) 21-15, IRE (Adam McKeown) bt ISR (Zvika Hadar) 21-18, CYP (Bob Manson) bt ESP (Tom Rogers) 21-11, MLT (Brendan Aquilina) bt SUI (Thomas Walti) 21-2. Rd.9: SCO bt ISR 21-4, ESP bt MLT 21-20, IRE bt NAM 21-19, CYP bt SUI 21-15, BRA bt ZIM 21-17, TUR bt HUN 21-5.

Current standings: SCOTLAND 25 points +99 shots, IRE 24 +43, NAM 21 +44, MLT 19 +65, ISR 15 +8, ZIM 15 -12, ESP 12 -15, TUR 9 +18, BRA 9 -27, CYP 6 -52, SUI 6 -62, HUN 0 -109.

Men’s fours:

Sec.1: Rd.7: WAL (Ben Thomas, Ross Owen, Stephen Harris, Jon Tomlinson) bt ZIM (Clive Robertson, Mike Eaton, Tom Craven, Denis Streak) 15-8, JER (Derek Boswell, Greg Davis, Scott Ruderham, Malcolm De Sousa) bt ISR (Daniel Alonim, Selwyn Hare, Danny Slodovnik, Allan Saitowitz) 14-12, MLT (Peter Tonna, Wes Hedges, Mark Malogorski, Len Callus) bt TUR (Ahmet Gargabijk, Vuslat Arac, Huseyin Tukenmez, Serkan Akar) 21-13, NAM (John Fouche, Piet Appolis, Johan Jacobs, Will Esterhuizen) bt ARG (Ricardo Rubinat, Rodolfo Muller, Jorge Barreto, Raul Pollet) 23-8. Rd.8: GUE (Terry Brokenshire, Matt Solway, Mick Ogier, Chris Dyer) bt MLT 19-14, ZIM bt JER 13-12, WAL bt ARG 20-9, NAM bt TUR 31-10.

Current standings: WALES 18 points +64 shots, NAM 15 +38, JER 15 +29, ZIM 15 -6, ISR 9 -9, ARG 9 -11, GUE 6 -13, MLT 6 -18, TUR 3 -74.

Sec.2: Rd.7: SCO (Ronnie Duncan, Derek Oliver, Paul Foster, Alex Marshall) bt ENG (Steve Mitchinson, David Bolt, Ian Lesley, Sam Tolchard) 21-16, IRE (Aaron Tennant, Neil Mulholland, Andrew Kyle, Mark Wilson) bt RSA (Prince Neluonde, Wayne Rittmuller, Jason Evans, Billy Radloff) 21-16, BOT (Ajitkumar Naik, Baven Balendra, John Gaborutwe, Binesh Desai) bt SUI (Sven Rubin, Ulrich Hausler, Beat Matti, Thomas Schneiter) 32-6, ESP (John Pooley, Brian Manser, Derek Eldon, Graham Cathcart) bt BRA (Francis Vila, Heitor Correa, Keith Rowland, Peter Gordon) 19-12. Rd.8: KEN (David Salmon, Benson Wambugu, Charles Wambugu, Andrew Jones) bt BOT 15-12, SCO bt RSA 22-11, IRE bt SUI 22-12, ENG bt BRA 20-18.

Current standings: SCOTLAND 21 points +68 shots, IRE 18 +59, RSA 15 +41, ENG 15 +36, KEN 9 -37, BOT 6 -2, ESP 2 -7,BRA 3 -43, SUI 3 -115.

Women’s pairs:

Sec.1: Rd.7: WAL (Sara Marie Nicholls, Ysie White) bt JER (Chloe Greechan, Fiona Archibald) 16-11, RSA (Nici Neal, Colleen Piketh) bt ESP (Debbie Colquhoun, Maggie Holmes) 24-6, MLT (Rebecca Rixon, Connie Rixon) bt ARG (Marta Gesualto, Ana Ramos) 41-7, GUE (Rose Ogier, Lucy Beere) bt SUI (Noelle Iseli, Simone Iseli) 34-1. Rd.8: ISR (Ruti Gilor, Tami Kamzel) bt SUI 26-8, JER bt RSA 15-12, WAL bt MLT 16-13, GUE bt ARG 18-10.

Current standings: WALES 18 points +71 shots, GUE 15 +60, RSA 15 +57, JER 15 +5, MLT 12 +81, ISR 12 +11, ARG 6 -84, ESP 3 -62, SUI 0 -139.

Sec.2: Rd.8: ENG (Rebecca Wigfield, Natalie Chestney) bt IRE (Gemma McClean, Sarah-Jane Curran) 18-17, ZIM (Caryn Sinclair, Melanie James) bt TUR (Eylem Carcabuk, Ceyda Arac) 17-15, NED (Ineke Nagtegaal, Norma Duin) bt SCO (Megan Grantham, Stacey McDougall) 14-13, NAM (Anjuleen Viljoen, Amanda Steenkamp) bt FRA (Audrey Vyt, Emma Baggio) 18-16. Rd.9: SCO bt IRE 18-9, NAM bt ZIM 20-17, IOM bt TUR 25-9, NED bt FRA 22-19.

Current standings: ENGLAND 21 points +90 shots, SCO 15 +65, IRE 13 +50, NED 13 -7, NAM 10 +19, ZIM 10 -4, IOM 9 -15, FRA 3 -7, TUR 0 -191.

Women’s triples:

Sec.1: Rd.7: ZAM (Gertrude Siama, Sophie Matipa, Eddah Mpezeni) bt CYP (Maria Staniland, Yvonne Veitch, Hazel Bagshaw) 33-6, WAL (Melanie Thomas, Bethan Russ, Anwen Butten) bt MLT (Rita Hedges, Rose Rixon, Sharon Callus) 29-3, ESP (Lynne Eldon, Gillian Atkinson, Jenny Thompson) bt ARG (Sara Jaimez, Celia Jaimez, Gabriela Vallamarin) 17-10, IRE (Ashleigh Rainey, Courtney Wright Shauna O’Neill) bt GUE (Jackie Nicolle, Lyn Small, Gwen De La Mare) 19-10, RSA (Jacqui Van Rensburg, Esmé Kruger, Anneke Snyman) bt TUR (Havva Konanc, Filiz Adiguzel, Rahsan Akar) 32-8. Rd.8: TUR bt BOT (Marea Modutlwa, Chikale Robert, Tibone Fox) 22-11, IRE bt CYP 20-13, ARG bt ZAM 17-11, GUE bt MLT 26-9, RSA bt ESP 19-9. Rd.