FOLLOWING the recent World Bowls board meeting it was announced that next year’s World Singles Champion of Champions winners will be crowned in Lower Hutt, New Zealand.
In fact, the 2021 and 2022 championships will both be hosted at the Naenae Bowling Club; 2021 is scheduled for 20-27 November, while 19-26 November is set down for 2022’s extravaganza.
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.
New Zealand has previously hosted this event on four occasions. In Christchurch on the South Island, at Fendalton (2005, 2014) and Burnside (2006, 2013), while next year the world spotlight will shine on Naenae, located at the south west tip of the North Island.
“Since the last World Championships in Christchurch in 2016, Bowls New Zealand has hosted several rounds of Australia’s Bowls Premier League, so hosting the World Champion of Champions and having international bowls back in New Zealand is something that our bowls community will get right behind,” Mark Cameron, chief executive of BNZ said following the announcement.
“Along with the talent the Champion of Champions brings, is the possibility that you can have a match-up between a world singles champion, or a Commonwealth Games medal recipient, and a junior club champion on any given day, which makes this particular competition so special, what other sport is there in the world where this can happen?”
New Zealand has a proud heritage of presenting major international bowls events. It has orchestrated the World Bowls Championships – conducted every four years – on three occasions in 1988 (Auckland), 2008 (Christchurch) and 2016 (Christchurch), while it has hosted Commonwealth Games bowls competitions three times, in 1950 at the Carlton club in Auckland; 1974 at Woolston Workingman’s in Christchurch; and at Auckland’s Pakuranga Combined club in 1990.
“Bowls New Zealand has a fine record of showcasing our sport at its finest,” said World Bowls chief executive Gary Smith, “so we are all excited about the next two years’ champion of champions events.
“The New Zealand tender was successful against several other outstanding bids, which were much appreciated. So, combine NZ’s big event experience at an excellent venue, world-famous greens plus a field of international champions and everyone attending is assured a feast of great bowls.”
Last time New Zealand welcomed all national singles champions to contend for the ultimate honour two Scots, Iain McLean and Lorna Smith, claimed the 2014 men’s and women’s crowns in Christchurch, when the Flower of Scotland bloomed in the ‘Garden City’.
Photos: From the last time this event was staged in New Zealand at Fendalton in 2014. Men’s medals: Ali Forsyth (NZ) bronze; David Holt (Australia) bronze; Iain McLean (Scotland) gold, Fairus Jabal (Malaysia) silver. Women’s medals: Litia Tikoisuva (Fiji) bronze; Noor Zafirah Noor (Malaysia) bronze; Lorna Smith (Scotland) gold, Saskia Schaft (Netherlands) silver.