Thirty-five nations will descend on the Illawarra region for the staging of the 2023 World Bowls Indoor Championships from May 7-12.
The jointly run World Bowls and International Indoor Bowls Council event will see a star-studded field of international raiders take to the Warilla Bowls and Recreation Club’s indoor surface for just the second staging of the event, with three world titles in contention.
Thirty-five men and thirty-one women are poised to play for the two world indoor singles title, with countrymates also uniting to contest the mixed pairs title.
Teaming up with male athletes from countries that do not have a female representative in the mixed pairs will be four Australia bowlers, including Commonwealth Games silver para medallist Serena Bonnell and Emerging and Pathways Jackaroos Chloe Morrison, Grace Moloney and Lauren Banks.
Formerly called the ‘World Cup’, which only encompassed the singles disciplines, the most recent competition was renamed as the World Indoor Championship and took place in Bristol, England in 2022.
Scotland’s Michael Stepney and Julie Forrest claimed the men’s and women’s titles, while Guernsey’s Alison Merrien and Scotland’s Stewart Anderson won the mixed pairs, following on from Merrien’s previous singles victories in 2008 and 2012.
Merrien, Stepney and Forrest are the only among the field attempting to replicate their previous title triumphs.
Participating in the event this year is two of Australia’s most decorated and admired Australian Jackaroos – Aron Sherriff and Kelsey Cottrell.
Sherriff, who has won countless medals since 2008, has been in red-hot form, with recent successes including gold at the 2022 Australian Indoor Championship, Golden Nugget and Australian Open singles, and was recently selected to make his fourth appearance at the World Bowls Championships this year.
Cottrell is one of Australia’s most decorated players, and a five-time World Champion who also won the 2022 Australian Indoor Championship and the 2022 Australian Open singles title and will also guide the host-nation at the World Bowls Championships.
With many athletes making their debut at the Championship this year, Troy Lormier will represent Malta in the men’s singles after competing at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, while Connie Rixon, who is no stranger to the international stage, makes her second appearance at this event and her record includes a triples bronze medal at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Also making her debut is Sri Lanka’s Kumari Mangos who recently competed at the 2023 Asia Lawn Bowls Championships in Ipoh, Malaysia and will be looking forward to this event and to the World Bowls Championships later this year.
Reigning two-time Commonwealth Games men’s pairs gold medallist Daniel Salmon, from Wales, and 2014 Commonwealth Games women’s pairs gold medallist Colleen Piketh, from South Africa, loom ominously in field.
Similarly, New Zealand’s well credentialed internationals, Katelyn Inch and Andrew Kelly, and young Norfolk Island spearhead Shae Wilson will be eyeing the coveted prizes.
With a strong field in attendance, the World Bowls Indoor Championships is once again set to put Warilla on the international bowls map, following 14 consecutive stagings of the World Cup until 2019.