THE countdown is on for two international representatives to achieve bowls immortality in Australia over the next few weeks when the sport crowns this year’s men’s and women’s world singles champions.

In 10 days a stellar field of fifty-four contenders hailing from thirty-two countries will set their sights on the ultimate honour at Sydney’s palatial St Johns Park Bowls Club in the 16th World Singles Champion of Champions.

Commencing on October 29 for seven days of competition, the event features twenty-eight men and twenty-six women in action on the pristine greens at St Johns Park.

Qualifying rounds will be conducted continuously over the first five days, with semi finals on Saturday 3 November, followed by the men’s and women’s world finals on Sunday 4 November.

This annual championship, first conducted in Australia at Moama in 2003, offers the ultimate ‘rags to riches’ fairytale story – fact is, any club singles winner, anywhere in the world, can progress through at regional, state and national level to win a shot at a world title – a place in this competition is won out on the green without the necessity to curry favour with national selectors.

This year’s field will no doubt comprise several players who fall under the ‘previously unheralded’ category, while it also carries a spate of the sport’s heavy hitters.

Hot favourite in the women’s division is Jo Edwards from New Zealand, who won this title in 2011 in Hong Kong. More recently Edwards has won the past two Commonwealth Games singles gold medals. Similarly, fellow New Zealander Shannon McIlroy, the reigning world bowls singles champion, will be the man to beat in the men’s event.

However, there is plenty of talent in both line-ups to spoil the possibility of a ‘black wash’ by the aforementioned Kiwi stars

Keep an eye out for Ireland’s Mark Wilson, American Charlie Herbert, Guernsey’s Todd Priaulx and South African champion Wayne Rittmuller in the men’s, while Norfolk Island’s dual world singles gold medalist Carmen Anderson, Kirsty Richards from England, America’s top lady Anne Nunes and Judith Wason from Wales will push hard for women’s honours.

A special heads-up to follow the fortunes of rising Malaysian star Nurul Alyani Jamil, who claimed under-25 singles and mixed pairs gold at the Asian championships in China at Xinxiang last week. Another to watch will be Wattana Kadkhunthod from Thailand who clinched the open men’s singles title at the same event.

Host nation Australia will be represented by competitors from two of its smallest bowling communities. Darwin’s Colleen Orr creates history in the women’s event – being the first Northern Territorian to challenge for a world title – while Lee Schraner from Tasmania will start as one of the warm favourites in the men’s competition.

The recently announced sections for this year’s championships are:

Men: Section 1: Ralph Goodlife (Argentina), Jerome Kirby (Canada), Surend Prasad (Fiji), Todd Priaulx (Guernsey), Tony Cheung (Hong Kong China), Mark Wilson (Ireland), Clive McGreal (Isle of Man), Noam Yehudai (Israel), Hank Satoh (Japan), Will Esterhuizen (Namibia), Shannon McIlroy (New Zealand), Wattana Kadkhunthod (Thailand), Ozkan Akar (Turkey), Kevin Riddiford (Zambia).

Men: Section 2: Aaron Chilundo (Zimbabwe), Teddy Evans (Norfolk Island), Charlie Herbert (USA), Roger Jones (Wales), Su Hong Lam (Macao China), Joseph Nthobelang (Botswana), Zoltan Pavelka (Hungary), Zulhilmie Redzuan (Malaysia), Martyn Rice (Scotland), Wayne Rittmuller (Sth Africa), Brian Robertson (Spain), Avala Savanlinaea (Samoa), Lee Schraner (Australia), Thomas Schneiter (Switzerland).

Women: Section 1: Alicia Olaverria (Argentina), Colleen Orr (Australia), Deliwe Kitsiso (Botswana), Mary Wright (Canada), Kirsty Richards (England), Shirley Ko (Hong Kong China), Jean Holmes (Jersey), Jo Edwards MNZM (New Zealand), Dee Hoggan (Scotland), Tammy Tham (Singapore), Leone Du Rand (South Africa), Rahsan Akar (Turkey), Ursula Gripper (Zimbabwe).

Women: Section 2: Carmen Anderson OAM (Norfolk Island), Hazel Bagshaw (Cyprus), Sue Bryant (Thailand), Hilda Fong (Macao China), Ruthy Gilor (Israel), Nurul Alyani Jamil (Malaysia), Caroline Lehmann (Switzerland), Anne Nunes (USA), Janice Pilling (Isle of Man), Litia Tikoisuva (Fiji), Marietjie van den Bergh (Namibia), Judith Wason (Wales), Alicia Weir (Ireland).

Photo: New Zealand superstars Jo Edwards and Shannon McIlroy.