It’s déjà vu all over again!
It was the renowned Yankees baseball manager Yogi Berra who once vandalised the English language – as only he could – when history repeated itself after his team lost an unlosable game in 1961?
At Penylan tomorrow defending champion Jamie Walker and Darren Burnett will face off in a ‘Clash of the Titans’ for the men’s singles crown at these Atlantic Championships.
It’s a replay of the men’s final at the last Atlantic Championships, in 2015 at the Athena Beach Resort on Cyprus. A genuine case of déjà vu and a contest that promises to be a crackerjack affair.
The blue ribbon men’s singles competition always spearheads the second week of a major international championship – showcasing the sport’s hottest exponents at full throttle atop Cardiff’s greens.
These hybrid performers are the Rock Stars of bowls. In Hollywood speak, the leading men, the dashing sabre-wielding heroes, the beefcake heart-throbs, who play the conventional draw shot with surgical precision, yet have no problem unleashing a power drive to smash open an unfavourable head and send bowls scurrying to all parts of the green.
In contrast, the corresponding men’s fours event is something more akin to the West Side Story’s ‘Jets’ and ‘Sharks’ – groups of wild-eyed men neither giving or expecting an inch of latitude from their opposition during battle. Their game is tough and uncompromising while demonstrating an amazing depth of skill and nerve along the way. This is the grunt section, the hard rock and heavy metal men.
Week two also saw the world’s top women setting course in their pursuit of pairs and triples gold with a game style that is infinitely more tranquil than the guys, but equally entertaining and fierce.
At the Penylan Bowls Club in Cardiff tomorrow four gold medals will be decided between many of the greatest bowlers on the planet – there’s no prizemoney here, but you couldn’t buy a medal for love or a wad of cash.
It’s the culmination of the event’s second tough week – over the past six days the championships – featuring twenty-five countries from the European, African and South American theatres at four host clubs around the Welsh capital – Barry Athletic, Dinas Powys, Penarth Windsor and Penylan – has put the best-credentialled field ever through its paces in an enduro to test the skills and mental toughness of the game’s top exponents.
Jamie Walker, the defending singles champion, played his way into the main event by dodging a few bullets and staging a few heroic comebacks during qualifying. But he was too steady for young Dan Salmon today and capitalised on a couple of tardy ends from the young Welsh star.
The great Scot Darren Burnett was his usual business-like self when he raced to victory against promising Irish 19-year-old Adam McKeown in the semi finals. Earlier in the day McKeown demonstrated why the Ireland hierarchy gifted him the coveted singles berth when he eliminated South Africa’s Pierre Breitenbach in their elimination match.
More déjà vu in the men’s fours too, when defending champions Jersey give the mighty Scots a shot at the title they have held since Cyprus. The Jersey boys Derek Boswell, Greg Davis, Scott Ruderham and Malcolm De Sousa were brave beyond belief as they carded identical 12-8 wins over South Africa and Wales to gain their berth in tomorrow’s 15-end final.
However, the reigning Commonwealth Games fours champions Ronnie Duncan, Derek Oliver, Paul Foster and Alex Marshall are a professional outfit who will make their opponents earn every single shot.
Defending champions Nici Neal and Colleen Piketh from South Africa play Guernsey’s Rose Ogier and Lucy Beere in the women’s pairs gold medal match after the Proteas outgunned Sara Marie Nicholls and Ysie White from Wales in the semi finals at Barry; while in the corresponding eliminator, the Guernsey gals stole a march on hot favourites Rebecca Wigfield and Natalie Chestney from England.
Two comfortable semi final wins saw England and Scotland power into the women’s triples gold medal play-off. Tomorrow’s showdown featuring England’s Jamie-Lea Winch, Lorraine Kuhler and Sian Honnor against Hannah Smith, Claire Johnston and Caroline Brown from Scotland will be a crowd-pleasing affair.
Results of today’s play below.
Photo: Men’s singles semi finalists Dan Salmon, Adam McKeown, Darren Burnett and Jamie Walker.
2019 Atlantic Bowls Championships, Cardiff, Wales, UK
Elimination finals: WAL (Dan Salmon) bt MLT (Brendan Aquilina) 21-17, IRE (Adam McKeown) bt RSA (Pierre Breitenbach) 21-19.
Semi finals: ENG (Jamie Walker) bt WAL (Dan Salmon) 21-17, SCO (Darren Burnett) bt IRE (Adam McKeown) 21-9.
Elimination finals: IRE (Aaron Tennant, Neil Mulholland, Andrew Kyle, Mark Wilson) bt NAM (John Fouche, Piet Appolis, Johan Jacobs, Will Esterhuizen) 13-11, JER (Derek Boswell, Greg Davis, Scott Ruderham, Malcolm De Sousa) bt RSA (Prince Neluonde, Wayne Rittmuller, Jason Evans, Billy Radloff) 12-8.
Semi finals: JER (Derek Boswell, Greg Davis, Scott Ruderham, Malcolm De Sousa) bt WAL (Ben Thomas, Ross Owen, Stephen Harris, Jon Tomlinson) 12-8, SCO (Ronnie Duncan, Derek Oliver, Paul Foster, Alex Marshall) bt IRE (Aaron Tennant, Neil Mulholland, Andrew Kyle, Mark Wilson) 20-10.
Elimination finals: RSA (Nici Neal, Colleen Piketh) bt SCO (Megan Grantham, Stacey McDougall) 13-12, GUE (Rose Ogier, Lucy Beere) bt IRE (Gemma McClean, Sarah-Jane Curran) 26-9.
Semi finals: RSA (Nici Neal, Colleen Piketh) bt WAL (Sara Marie Nicholls, Ysie White) 20-5, GUE (Rose Ogier, Lucy Beere) bt ENG (Rebecca Wigfield, Natalie Chestney) 19-16.
Elimination finals: IRE (Ashleigh Rainey, Courtney Wright Shauna O’Neill) bt NED (Elly Dolieslager, Betty Schiltman, Saskia Schaft) 17-9, ENG (Jamie-Lea Winch, Lorraine Kuhler, Sian Honnor) bt WAL (Melanie Thomas, Bethan Russ, Anwen Butten) 17-12.
Semi finals: ENG (Jamie-Lea Winch, Lorraine Kuhler, Sian Honnor) bt RSA (Jacqui Van Rensburg, Esmé Kruger, Anneke Snyman) 20-9, SCO (Hannah Smith, Claire Johnston, Caroline Brown) bt IRE (Ashleigh Rainey, Courtney Wright Shauna O’Neill) 20-10.