World Indoor Bowls Council champion Steven Allan quick to make his mark in rival event
A glance around at the competitors rubbing shoulders with the guests in the 'Bowlers' Bar at Potters Leisure Resort in Hopton-on-Sea yesterday left observers in no doubt that they were witnessing a world indoor bowls championship.
Before the giants of the game arrive with their sights set on the £45,000 first prize, a lively and confident clutch of colourful overseas hopefuls, who had qualified in their own countries, were battling it out for one place in the 32-man singles field, and for one place in the pairs field.
Amir Yaron, a 36-year-old owner of an internet marketing company from Israel, opened well with a 6-5, 4-3 straight sets victory of KK Wong, from Hong Kong, only to lose in his second game to Scotland's Steven Allan, who, at 26, is the champion of the rival-code, the World Indoor Bowls Council.
'It's not a darts scenario,' said WBT tournament director Richard Maddieson. 'There is no friction between the WBT and the WIBC these days. In fact, the WIBC own a 33pc stake in the WBT, and we try to help each other out from time to time.'
When Allan won the WIBC title in Wales last April, it was decided that his achievement warranted an invitation to compete in the WBT world championship – but only as a participant in the preliminary play-offs.
Allan, from Alloa, quickly stamped his authority on proceedings, beating Neil Furman, a 52-year-old South-Africa-born Californian, 5-5, 13-3.
After losing to Allan, Furman bounced back to beat Canada's Jamie MacGowan – who is, ironically, his pairs partner – in straight sets, 13-2, 10-5, and kept his hopes of making progress very much alive.
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Now, he will be depending on MacGowan or Wong taking a set off Allan, but the young Scot is in such good form that that does not appear likely.
Yesterday's preliminary play-offs (round robin), Singles: Amir Yaron (Israel) bt K K Wong (HK) 6-5, 4-3; Steve Allan (Scotland) bt Neil Furman (USA) 5-5, 13-3; Allan bt Yaron 12-2, 11-3; Furman bt Jamie McGowan (Canada) 13-2, 10-5; Pairs: John McCullough & Roy Battersby (Ireland) bt Shaun Nell & Graham Hobson (South Africa) 7-4, 8-4; Peter Fahey & Andrew Ashlin (Australia) t/w Jamie MacGowan (Canada) & Neil Furman (USA) 6-4, 5-6; MacGowan & Furman bt Simon Yau & Billy Fong (HK) 8-5, 7-2; Fahey & Ashlin t/w Dylan Jacobs & Malcolm Whyte (Canada) 8-6, 5-7.