Friday, 25 July 2014

Glasgow 2014 - Days 1 and 2

Spectacular is the word that can only describe the opening ceremony at the Celtic Park Stadium. We had great seats on the side the athletes marched on and just below the Royal Box. It was a late night though and when we finally arrived back at the Technical Officials Village at 1:00am it was straight to bed with an alarm set for 6:00am – yes 6:00am!! 
The start of the Opening Ceremony

The amazing venue as play gets underway
The first day of the bowls tournament was on Thursday and we had an early start. The first games were due on rink at 8:30 for trial ends but there was quite a bit for us early birds to do before they games commenced. This job is not all about standing in the corner of a rink and looking pretty. Oh no we have some important jobs to do at the start of the day. Each of the 5 greens in use has 2 umpires plus two time keepers so at any one session there are a minimum of 12 of us plus any markers and on rink officials (I will come to that later). The first task of the day is to set out the 2 metre markers in the rinks. We do not have to measure the rink widths as they are already preset and checked by the green keeping team. We have to insert small plastic markers into the rink on the centre line and 2 metres from each ditch. This is so that the maximum jack position can be marked and also the respot position. It doesn’t take long for 2 people to lay these out. The second task is to check the pace of the rinks and this is done by bowling a bowl to a distance of 27 metres and timing how long it takes to get there. Very simple if you are not too bad at bowling. The time is recorded and displayed in the players lounge so they get an idea of the pace of each green. We do this process twice per day.

Umpires kits, boundary scopes and other items we require during the games are placed in large black containers on each green. The kit that we need to carry out our duties are carried on us when we are working. When everything is ready we wait for the march on and the start of the trial ends. 

Play on one of the 4 main greens
 There are 4 sessions of play per day and each session is timed at 2 hours 15 minutes. At the start of the sessions a horn is sounded and play can commence. The format of play is quite unique and is as follows: Singles is the traditional format of 21 shots up with four bowls per player. 
Pairs players have three bowls each and play 18 ends
Triples have two bowls each and play 18 ends.
Fours players have two bowls ad play 15 ends
The same goes for the para sport mixed pairs and open triples only they play 15 ends instead of 18 with no time limit.

The weather for the past two days has been very warm and working out on the greens with little of no shade has been quite tiring and very sweaty. I have umpired on 3 sessions and marked one session up to now. Thankfully nothing too taxing or controversial and I hope it stays that way.

The team spirit and banter between all of us officials is great and we are also having a good time with the many volunteers and workers involved in all aspects of the venue and the sport. Of duty we have also had some good fun and it has been great catching up with our overseas colleagues and getting to know new friends. We have had a couple of late nights so far and so its time to get some needed sleep. 

Thankfully Saturday is a slightly easier day for me as I will only be officiating in one of the three sessions. I will be the on rink official for one of the Gold medal matches in either the pairs or triples. An on rink official simply stands on the rink and indicates the numbers of shots held during the end and at the completion of the end for the spectators and TV viewers. I know it’s a tough job but someone has to do it.

The forecast is for slightly cooler temperatures and a spot of rain for the weekend, lets hope it does not affect the play too much.

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