Tim's perfect delivery
David Rhys-JonesTim Stone, who lives in Norwich and plays his bowls at Acle, will never experience another day quite like yesterday. Having been present at the birth of his first child he rushed off to Hopton-on-Sea to play in the first round of the world indoor singles championship - where he celebrated with a dramatic tie-break win over Graham Smith.David Rhys-Jones
Tim Stone, who lives in Norwich and plays his bowls at Acle, will never experience another day quite like yesterday. Having been present at the birth of his first child he rushed off to Hopton-on-Sea to play in the first round of the world indoor singles championship - where he celebrated with a dramatic tie-break win over Graham Smith.
The story started yesterday morning with an emergency dash to hospital, where doctors examined Tim's pregnant wife Bec, and decided a Caesarean operation was necessary. Not only did Becky present Tim with a son, Harry, but the Acle star, surely on automatic pilot, proceeded to defeat Smith, 4-8, 11-8, 2-1.
'Originally, we thought that the baby was due at the end of the month - to coincide roughly with the date of the singles final,' Stone, a 31-year-old academic book buyer, said before taking to the rink. 'Harry surprised us by arriving three weeks early, but mother and baby are doing well, Win or lose, I'm just so pleased I was able to make it to Potters, without letting people down.'
It emerged that yesterday was not only Harry's birthday - it was Bec Stone's birthday, too, and, believe it or not, that of Tim's dad David Stone. You could say it was a day full of deliveries for the happy Norfolk man, who looked bowled over when Judy Potter presented him with a special bouquet before the game started.
Andy Thomson, the England captain and 'elder statesman' of the top 16, weighed in with a bottle of champagne, 'to wet the baby's head', and spectators settled down to enjoy a great game of bowls.
Although at first it seemed as if Smith, from Spalding, was going to coast to victory when he won the first set and scored a treble on the first end of the second set, Stone dug in and worked his way back into contention. Scoring two consecutive doubles, he took the lead at 4-3, but promptly lost it again when conceding a double and a single.
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Collecting a double and a treble, Stone seemed to have Smith worried, and the Lincolnshire man had little luck with a ferocious drive, but there was another twist to the tale as Smith scored a double on the eight end, and held a good shot on the ninth that would have tied the set and won the match. This time it was a superb drive from Stone that took the shot that won the set and earned the Acle man a tiebreak, but, as it happened, there were four more engrossing ends left in this epic tale.
The first end went to Stone, the second to Smith, before Stone seemed to have sealed victory with a back toucher what we thought was the deciding end.
Smith elected to kill the end, and did so without mercy, earning the right to replay the end - a rule that applies only on the third end of the tiebreak, so the bowls were returned to the mat-end, and the end was re-started.
Nerves clearly were beginning to fray, and the first four bowls were loose, but Stone summoned up enough concentration to draw the shot about a foot from the jack with his third nbowl of the end.
Smith, with only one bowl left, seemed to have saved the game, finishing about a foot past the jack, and the marker Mike Davies expressed his opinion that Smith's red bowl was in shot position.
Stone's attempt to get closer found a gap, so umpire Alan Thornhill was called on to adjudicate - and found to everyone's surprise, that Stone's bowl was a millimetre closer.
'That one was for Harry,' said Stone. 'It's been a brilliant day. Now I'm looking forward to seeing my wife and son, and, of course, playing five-times champion Alex Marshall next week.'
Tiebreaks were the order of the day as Mark Royal and Simon Skelton beat Ireland's Ian McClure and Gary McCloy, 4-9, 11-3, 2-0, Canada's Hirendra Bhartu beat Kent's 20-year-old Scott Whiting 2-9 8-3 2-0 and Cardiff's Richard Morgan beat Ireland's Nigel Gibson 8-3, 8-9 2-0.
WBT world indoor bowls championships at Potters Leisure Resort, Norfolk
Singles, first round: R Morgan (Wales) bt N Gibson (Ireland) 8-3, 8-9, 2-0; H Bhartu (Canada) bt S Whiting (England) 2-9, 8-3, 2-0; T Stone (England) bt G Smith (England) 4-8, 11-8, 2-1.
Pairs, first round: M Royal & S Skelton (England) bt I McClure & G McCloy (Ireland) 4-9, 11-3, 2-0; I Bond & A E Thomson (England) bt R Lozzi & C Rimmington (South Africa) 11-3, 7-5.
9.30am: World singles championship, 1st round - Theuns Fraser (Sth Africa) v Willie Wood MBE (Scot) followed by Jamie Hanlan (Scot) v Philip Rowlands (Wales).
2pm: World pairs championship, 1st round - (6) Jason Greenslade & Robert Weale (Wales) v Jamie Chestney & Graham Smith (Eng) followed by (2) Paul Foster & Alex Marshall (Scot) v Hirendra Bhartu & Fred Fong (Can).
7.30pm: World singles championship, 1st round - Phil Bennett (NZ) v John Price (Wales).