Norfolk ace Jamie Chestney ready to ‘go it alone’ at Commonwealth Games in Glasgow despite support
- Credit: Archant
Debutant Jamie Chestney has expert advice available at every turn ahead of his Commonwealth Games bow.
The England international, who has spent almost all of his life living in Fakenham, is engaged to reigning women's singles champion Natalie Melmore. But the 27-year-old insists he'll be turning a deaf ear to anything the 2010 gold medallist has to say ahead of taking to the rink in Glasgow.
The Newton Abbot resident said: 'I'm certainly best known for being Natalie's fiance in Devon – I've only been down here for a couple of years. She's in the ladies' team again so she's obviously got high hopes to defend that title.
'It's very different because the men and the women never really play together. We don't actually compete against each other – but any time we've (Chestney and Melmore) actually practiced together I won't mention the scores. We're playing on opposite sessions (in Glasgow). The opportunity to watch each other is there but we've had discussions amongst us two, and the rest of the team, and we know we're all backing each other.
'Obviously we want everyone to come home with gold medals but it's really about looking after yourself and getting the preparation right. For myself it'll be about getting back to the athletes' village and chilling out for a couple of hours before I go back and play my second game in the evening.
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'Natalie won't be passing on much advice to me because it's quite a different game that the ladies play to the men, certainly tactically. She's passed on some advice about how the athletes' village was in Delhi (2010) and looking after yourself, but again the schedule is quite different this time to what it was for them.'
If he doesn't want to listen intently to much that Melmore, pictured alongside her future husband below, has to say, Chestney – who will play in the triples and the fours – could do worse than take on board the thoughts of Wisbech-born Ellen Falkner. The 35-year-old heads to Scotland for her fourth Games appearance having appeared at Manchester in 2002, the 2006 event in Melbourne and Delhi four years later. Ely-based Falkner admits that a home Commonwealths is the greatest experience a player can embark on, so expects to pass on her memories to help other Team England competitors over the next week or so.
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'There's no doubt that my role in the team has changed,' says the woman who won fours' gold 12 years ago and topped the podium with her lifelong friend Amy Monkhouse in the pairs in India.
'In 2002 I was the baby of the team and very much looked after. Now, in the women's team in particular, I'm the senior player by nine years. So the role does change quite dramatically and you very much try and take on that role in supporting and helping others, but equally focusing on your own performance as well and drawing on that experience to help me play the best that I can play.'
The well-respected competitor's Delhi delight was a tribute to her extremely supportive nan who died in the build-up to the Games – the 20th version of which kicks-off with an opening ceremony in Scotland this evening. Having only once returned home from a Commonwealths without a medal, Falkner's West Norfolk-raised compatriot Chestney would be wise to take on board the pain his team-mate still feels at her downfall Down Under.
The defending champion, who will compete in the triples and not the pairs as she did four years ago, added: 'Australia was probably the biggest low of my bowling career, but probably one of my most defining moments. The amount I learned through that disappointing performance actually saw me come back a better player for it.'
While Fakenham's hero may end up still being overshadowed by 'Mrs Chestney' and Falkner whatever happens north of the border, at least he'll finally get the chance to let his game do the talking on bowls' biggest stage.
To hear full interviews with Chestney and Falkner, listen to West Norfolk Sports Podcast episode 36, hosted by reporter Gavin Caney, at www.edp24.co.uk/wnsp