December 19 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Bowls fans around the globe will fix their gaze on Norfolk once more this week when the World Indoor Bowls Championships return to Potters this Friday.
The prestigious tournament returns to the Hopton resort, near Great Yarmouth, for the 16th successive year and brings with it the sports biggest ever top prize of £50,000.
Among the world’s top players will be three Norfolk competitors.
Fakenham’s Mervyn King, the 2006 winner of the Open Singles title, again returns to join two young Norfolk Bowling Club players as the local attractions.
Rebecca Field, 24, returns to Potters looking to defend the ladies singles title she claimed last year and Jake Willgress, 21, will get his first taste of the world championships after being handed a wildcard.
Willgress, from Mulbarton, has been playing the game he was eight years old and starts his attempt for home glory on Tuesday when he takes on Welsh veteran and 1990 world indoor singles champion John Price.
“It’s been just an unbelievable dream, to get a chance to play in the world championships, it isn’t every day you get the opportunity, and just down the road as well to get the support is going to be great,” Willgress said of his big opportunity.
“I’m just going to give it my best shot and see what I can do. I’ve just got to take it a game at a time, see if I can win the first and then look at the second, so the main objective is to get through the first round.”
Field, from Norwich, first got into the sport when she gave short mat a try when she was just eight years old. Her title defence starts on Saturday, January 18, when she faces Victoria Bilsen in the quarter-finals of the Ladies World Matchplay Singles.
Her tournament gets under way the day before though when she accompanies King in the quarter-finals of the Mixed Pairs World Matchplay against Paul Foster and Laura Thomas.
“The hope has got to be to win of course, I did it last year so hopefully I might be able to replicate that,” Field said. “I’m looking forward to being back here, it’s a great venue and a home crowd so I’m really looking forward to it.
“I know I’m capable, I know I’m good enough to win, which I proved last year.
“I’m looking forward to the first match. It’s all on the day with bowls, so if it comes together, it comes together and fingers crossed, it will.”
Richard Maddieson, chief executive of the World Bowls Tour, was on hand to see the final touches being put to the main rink at Potters yesterday.
He said the wildcard for local lad Willgress, who has previously been involved with England Under-25 squad, is well deserved.
Maddieson said: “Jake is a typical bowler who two years ago joined the Professional Bowls Association and (has) also been knocking on the door at the qualifiers and this year has just about get there but to give him a little bit of assistance we’ve given him a wildcard and Jake is very competitive and he’ll be one to watch.”
During the 17 days of the tournament, sponsored by Just Retirement, spectators will see 16 of the top ranked players in the world and 16 qualifiers battle it out on the blue rink for the Open Singles Championship, and that top prize of £50,000.
“When you get to Potters it is something different,” Maddieson added. “It’s the pinnacle of indoor bowls and the atmosphere here being electric, if you are not switched on to it, it can sometimes effect you.
“Sixteen years is longer than any place we’ve been with the world championships, not likely to change from here, and this year the world singles is a record £50,000 for the winner, that is the biggest prize in the whole world of indoor bowls.”