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Largest Bowls contingent ever

09 Mar 06 05:30
Karen Murphy, Australian lawn bowls medallist. 

Karen Murphy, Australian silver medallist in Manchester 2002.

There will be serious competition when the top bowling nations clash at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

The Melbourne 2006 Lawn Bowls competition is the biggest of any Games, with 26 nations represented by 261 athletes.

Australian Karen Murphy, who won silver in the Women’s Singles at the Manchester Games 2002, and fellow Australian bowler Kelvin Kerkow have identified their English and Scottish opponents as their biggest challengers for medals.

“I think the UK, Canada and New Zealand are going to be competitive, but mainly the UK countries," Kerkow said.

England won three Lawn Bowls gold medals at the Manchester Games, while Scotland won two and New Zealand, South Africa and Malaysia won one apiece.

“South Africa and Malaysia are really good now,” Murphy added. "We've got a really tough section in the women's pairs and we've decided that is a good thing."

New Zealand’s Lawn Bowls teams have managed to win at least one medal in every Games at which the event has been played since 1930, with the exception of 1934.

The Kiwis gained a huge psychological boost earlier this year when they took out the Tri-Nations Cup against Malaysia and Australia, and also claimed back the Trans-Tasman Trophy which had been sitting with Australia for the past three years. Joint New Zealand coach, Peter Belliss is confident the Kiwis will be on the dais.

“I’d like to think we can get at least two medals," he said. "The Commonwealth Games is one of the few competitions where the best players in the world are there, it truly is a world class competition."

Canada’s Lawn Bowls team includes 20-year-old Ryan Bester who is the world's youngest player to hold a world championship in Lawn Bowls, teaming up with 56-year-old Keith Roney to win the Pairs title at 2004 World Bowls Championship in Scotland.

The Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Lawn Bowls competition will take place at the State Lawn Bowls Centre from 16 – 24 March.

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