Andy Thomson bridges 17-year-gap to win third world indoor bowls title at Hopton-on-Sea

Andy Thomson bridged a gap of 17 years to win the Fred Olsen Cruise Lines world indoor singles title for the third time at Potters Leisure Resort in Hopton-on-Sea.

As BBC presenter Rishi Persad was keen to remind viewers, when Thomson last won the title John Major was Prime Minister, and Alan Shearer was top-scorer in the Premiership.

But Thomson looked as focused as at any time in his distinguished career, as he demolished the hopes of Wales' Jason Greenslade, winning the final in straight sets, 11-4, 10-9.

And, at 56, he became the oldest ever winner of the title – a remarkable achievement following his back-to-back titles in 1994 and 1995.

Born in St Andrews, Thomson played for Scotland in 1979, but moved south and settled in London the following year, since when he has dominated English bowls – and is currently the England team captain.

Thomson's family – wife Lin and sons Eddie and David – were there to support him, just as they were in 1995, when Eddie was nine and David only five.

'It made a difference having them there,' said the Anglo-Scot, fighting back the tears. 'But I would like to dedicate this win to my dad, who is in hospital back in Scotland.'

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Thomson added: 'I realise that Jason has played better, but he has been outstanding all week. I was really pumped up out there and played some big bowls – it's a dream come true and I can hardly believe it.'

With the crowd behind him, Thomson dominated the first set, and stamped his authority with some cracking deliveries when Greenslade threatened to rally in the second.

The first came when Greenslade was leading 2-1 after three ends of that second set, and was holding two shots when Thomson drew the shot to a blind jack that was in the ditch.

On the next end, after Greenslade had drawn three superb shots, Thomson took a deep breath and drew the winner to deny the 41-year-old Welshman, who first challenged for this title in 1988, when he was 17.

From 3-3 after six ends, Thomson surged ahead with a treble and a full house, and, at 10-3, was happy to concede shots over the last three ends to get over the line.

On Saturday, Greenslade hit top form to beat another Scot David Gourlay 9-4, 8-2, while Thomson defeated Dundee policeman Darren Burnett, the world No 3, 6-8, 10-5, 2-1.

Overall, this year's event will be remembered for Thomson's win on behalf of the older generation, and for the shock early departures of Paul Foster, Alex Marshall, Mervyn King and Greg Harlow.

The new kids on the block who must have felt their chance has arrived, were left watching a group of competitors who have been round the block.

At 35, Burnett was the youngest semi-finalist, while Greenslade and Gourlay are both in their forties. They, along with the remarkable Andy Thomson, showed that, in bowls, age is no barrier to success.

Bowlers of the over-arm kind entertained a large crowd at Potters on Saturday morning, when Matthew Hoggard and Devon Malcolm tried their hand at indoor bowls.

In a special Sport Relief challenge, Hoggard and Malcolm were coached for half-an-hour, then put up a spirited display against crack England duo Thomson and Greg Harlow.

Playing their googly, the cricketers pipped the lawn bowlers, 3-2, and, despite suspicions that the result was fixed, no objections were raised, and a cheque for �4,000 was handed over to Sport Relief.

Semi finals: J Greenslade (Wales) bt D Gourlay (Scot) 9-4, 8-2; A E Thomson (Eng) bt D Burnett (Scot) 6-8, 10-5, 2-1. Final: Thomson bt Greenslade 11-4, 10-9.