A few weeks have now passed since a great weekend at the World Championships in Aberdeen, Scotland.
It is an honour to represent your country in any event and short mat bowling is no exception. I have had the honour of doing so in Sweden in 2018 and again this year in Scotland. To pull on a shirt with Canada on the back and walk in procession behind the Canadian flag is a wonderful feeling. One of the team summed it up so well when she said:
“I was thrilled on the opening day of the competition to arrive at the Aberdeen Bowling Club and be greeted by two pipers. It gave the event an aura of importance and I couldn’t believe I was a part of it.
Another big moment for me was the Opening ceremony parade. As our team marched in and they announced “Canada”, I choked up with emotion.
Truly, the whole event was a huge life experience.”
The venue, the Aberdeen Indoor Bowling Club, was superb. It has 12 full length indoor rinks and is the biggest in Europe. For the championships 24 mats were used.
Day 1 was an early start with team photos and the opening parade and welcome speeches. After that the serious business started.
I was playing triples with John MacKenzie and my wife, Louisa. Triples and Fours were all playing at the same time so I did not have a lot of opportunity to watch the others. Singles and Pairs were in between our games so i did have some time to watch those games.
There was no real opportunity for practice prior to the games (only two mats available for about one hour prior to the games). There were no practice ends either. The WSMBC had decided against that since they were worried about the timing of the games. That proved a needless worry as games were played quickly and generally we were about one hour ahead of schedule throughout the championships.
Our first game was against Isle of Man and we did not perform as well as we should have. The primary reason was the speed of the mats. They were much slower than the mats which we are used to playing on in Cobourg. As a result we were slow to adapt and lost our first game. Next up was Germany and we did better in that game but were still struggling with speed and lost by 2 points.
We knew beforehand that the UK teams would be the strongest ones and although we were now getting used to the pace of the mats our next two games on the first day were against Wales and Ireland and were well beaten in both games even though we played better.
There were no wins at all for Canada on day 1 although there were some close games from Travis Anderson in singles, also from Marion Brunton and Penny Heneke in pairs. In triples it looked like Canada B may record the first victory as they were very close with Netherlands but lost in last end 9-11.
On Day 2 my triples team started against England (the eventual silver winners) and we played what was possibly our best game of the championships going down only 8-11.
Buoyed by that performance we had high hopes against Belgium but disaster struck when we conceded a six in one end and eventually went down 6-13.
Next up was Norway. I would say that they were the best team we played. They had a perfect 6-0 record and played superbly. We started badly then managed to hold our own after the first two ends. The final score was 6-22 but putting a positive spin on the game we won 5 ends to their 7. The only problem was we usually scored one when we won an end but they had multiple scores when they won an end!
Once again Canada came close in pairs with Marion and Penny as they looked likely winners against India at one point as did Travis in his singles games against Germany and Scotland but unfortunately they could not close out their games from good positions.
And so to the final day. Round robin play would conclude in the morning and elimination games in the afternoon. I should mention at this point that John MacKenzie and I are both Scottish and our next game was against the country of our birth. John had brought his own supporters club with brothers and nieces from all over the UK. It did us no good though as the Scottish vice, Debbie, played superbly and was the main reason Scotland won.
Eight games down and one to go, against Sweden. After 3 ends we were losing 6-2. Spirits were a bit low at this point but with 9 ends still to play we had to just keep plugging away and after winning 4 of the next 5 ends by one point we were back in the game. The ninth end was decisive. Louisa and John set it up so well and Sweden was forced into errors. We scored 5 and controlled the final 3 ends to record our first win by 13-10.
From afar that may not seem a big deal but I can tell you that it was a great feeling to record a win at the world championships in our final game.
Our game was finished in time for me to watch and live stream Travis’s final game. A real nail biter with scores tied going into the last end which Travis won. So the team finished on a high with two wins on the last day.
Congratulations are due to all the Canadian team. Only 3 of us had previously played in the world championships and had an idea of what to expect. As numerous players said “we would get into good positions with good bowls but then the opposition would better our bowls”. The difference is that the Europeans have much more experience in playing short mat than we do in Canada and they have a much bigger talent pool from which to select their teams. They also have regular competition which hones their competitive skills whereas we do not.
Our team learnt so much from the experience, had fun, met some great people, played some great bowls (without reward) and represented our country so well. And for that we can all be proud. Now for Ireland in 2024.
April 19th 2023