Wednesday 14 December 2016

World Bowls 2016 - Monday 12th December

It’s all over. A fantastic World Bowl 2016 tournament concluded on Sunday with the Men’s singles final followed by the medal presentations and the closing ceremony.
On Friday I had an easy afternoon session as a scoreboard attendant, keeping the scoreboard up to date on the South Africa v Australia Women’s Triples which was an entertaining game going the full distance with an extra end.

Christchurch Botanical Gardens
 Saturday, I had a day off but attended a Laws Committee meeting in the morning. The World Bowls Laws Committee is responsible for maintaining the Laws and development aspects of the world governing body and we had a number of topics to discuss at the meeting. We will now go away and work in more detail on some of those topics. In the afternoon I took the bus into the city with my umpiring colleague Angie Thompson. It gave us a chance to see again the devastation caused by the 2011 earthquake and to visit bits that I did not see the first time.

"185 Chairs" Memorial to those that lost their lives in 2011

And so to Sunday. There was torrential rain over night and the morning team awoke to find the greens at the Burnside Club underwater. Play was suspended for 45 minutes whilst the greens team worked hard to clear the water and prepare the TV rink for play. I had a leisurely morning, relaxed, had a late breakfast and made my way to the venue at 11:00 in preparation for the 1pm singles final.
The final itself was a great game between Shannon McIlroy from New Zealand and Ryan Bester of Canada. It was not too taxing as neither played asked too many questions. I felt I performed well and indeed comments from my colleagues and World Bowls officials were very positive. Shannon can out the winner and the World Champion which also put the New Zealand Team ahead in the Team Championship.

Sunday evening we enjoyed mingling with the many players and officials and volunteers at a cocktail evening. Good laugh and a great chance to wind down.

Homeward bound from Auckland
The long journey home started Monday afternoon leaving the accommodation at College House at 2pm. I will arrive back home to my family at midday on Tuesday.
It has been a great tournament and I have been pleased with my duties and the way I have worked with the team.

If you are interested, the video of the final and other matches can be found on the World Bowls 2016 You Tube channel

My next event will be the World Indoor Championships at Potters Leisure Resort at the end of January. Until next time, many thanks for reading my blog and for your kind comments.

Thursday 8 December 2016

World Bowls 2016 - Thursday 8th December

The Southern Alps
Into week two of the World Championships here in Christchurch. On Monday there was no play and so 4 of us had booked an escorted tour of the Southern Alps in and around Arthurs Pass. We traveled by train through the Canterbury plains before climbing into the stunning alpine terrain. We were then taken on short hikes in the mountains before returning by car to Christchurch. It was an incredible day and we witnessed some amazing scenery.

Christchurch Cathedral destroyed
in the 2011 Earthquake
Vic Perry and I had the chance to wander around Christchurch at the weekend and we were both astounded at the level of destruction caused by the 2011 earthquake. However, the city is rebuilding and there are many new and restored buildings being completed. There is still a lot that has been flattened and converted to car parking. It does seem that spirits are high in the city and there is a commitment to rebuild.

Aussie colleague Mark Cowen. The smug look
was soon wiped off his place in the Trashers Match
Also at the weekend, we played the Trashers Match; Australia ITOs versus English ITOs. Just a bit of fun on the championship rinks which started way back in 2006 in Melbourne. I am pleased to say that the 4 English ITO's beat the Aussies at their own game on their own speed greens, a great achievement which has earned them a good deal of stick from their fellow country folk!

The competition restarted on Tuesday with the sectional play for Men’s Fours and Singles and Women’s pairs and Triples. Back to early alarm calls we are again working 3 sessions of 3 hours per day. Unfortunately it seems whenever we are on the rink the weather takes a turn for the worse and the temperature drops. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were grey overcast and windy with intermittent drizzle – I thought it was supposed to be summertime in the southern hemisphere!

I have had a fair share of umpiring, marking and time keeping duties the past three days. The time keeping job is a bit like a session off but keeping an eye on progress at the same time. It is also a session where we look after our colleagues with Tea and Coffee about half time. In the conditions of play for this tournament there is a Slow Play regulation which basically controls the movement of players to avoid undue delays during the game. We monitor the progress of the game to ensure that they reach the half way point after 90 minutes. Any that are falling behind because they are playing a little slower are reminded gently to pick up the pace. The time keeper is available should a team opt to complain about their opponents should they be playing so slowly that they will not finish the game in the allotted 3 hour period. The regulations are quite complex in this regard and it is our job as time keepers to keep a close eye on the players and penalise should they be taking far too long.

As we approach this weekend, we are coming to the Semi-Finals and finals of the Men’s and Women’s disciplines mentioned earlier. Officials have now been allocated duties for the remaining 3 days. I am truly honoured to have been chosen to Mark the Men’s Singles final on Sunday afternoon; an occasion that will be up there with Marking the Commonwealth Games Final in 2002.

On Monday it will all be over and I start making the long trek back home to my lovely family, who I have missed but have managed to keep in contact with via FaceTime and Phone. My last blog from the games will be Monday 12th as I recap on the finals weekend and prepare for the journey home.

As always if you have any questions please get in touch and I will endeavor to answer them.

4 of the 6 members of the World Bowls Laws Committee

Saturday 3 December 2016

World Bowls 2016 - Saturday 3rd December

Week one of competition concludes this weekend with the finals of the Women’s Fours, Women’s singles, Men’s Pairs and Men’s Triples.

Part of the team at Papanui
On Wednesday I was based at the Papanui Bowls Club venue where I umpired the first session in the morning and Marked two singles ties in the afternoon. The weather decided to take a turn for the worse and it was overcast and drizzly. I had the pleasure of marking an excellent match between Karen Murphy of Australia and Laura Daniels of Wales. I have marked for both players many time before on the World Bowls Tour events.

Our days are long. An alarm at 6:00am followed by breakfast ready for a bus collection from the accommodation at 6:45am, sets us up for a day approaching 10 hours at the bowls venues. In the evenings we are finding local restaurants which have proved to be very nice. There is a great selection of dining options just down the road from our accommodation. We are staying at the University of Canterbury College
Our accommodation blocks
House which is basic but comfortable. We are staying in dorms of 5 rooms with shared bathroom facilities which means we are planning our early morning showers with military precision. There is a common room where we can relax, watch TV, eat, drink and socialise. Also on Campus are the Bowls New Zealand team and the Hong Kong China team.

On Thursday and Friday the temperature plummeted and the rain continued, there were a couple of sessions where I has as cold as I ever can remember on a bowls green. The games on Friday reached the first knockout stages. In the morning I was a scoreboard attendant for the Australia v Scotland Womens Fours match which was an excellent game despite the wet conditions. There was a bit of confusion in the afternoon session as I should have been a shot indicator for the Men’s Pairs but I got bumped and so had the afternoon free. It was all fine with me as it took me most of the afternoon to thaw out.

The greens are fast here at the three venues. One of our roles in the mornings is to time the greens but delivery bowls to a distance of 27metres and seeing how long it takes. This is called the pace of the green and stated in seconds. It gives the players a general idea how quick things are running. Most of the greens are timed at 16 to 18 seconds with 17 being about the average. To put that into perspective, it’s a similar pace to a fast indoor rink in the UK but with the added complication of the wind playing havoc. On Wednesday it was particularly windy and we even had jacks being moved by the wind.

Akaroa bay
Today (Saturday) many of us had a free day as only a few officials were needed for the two finals. It was an ideal opportunity to go out and see some of New Zealand. Four of us opted to hire a car and take a fantastic scenic drive to a small coastal village called Akaroa. It was a brilliant day especially as the sun made an appearance. Sunday, I am again off and not involved in the remaining two finals of this week. We are planning on going into Christchurch to learn more about how the city is recovering from the devastating Earthquake.

I am back in action for the start of the second week of the competition on Tuesday.
If you have any questions of comments about the championships then please enter them below and I will be happy to answer them whilst at the event.

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