Leamington Spa plays host to bowls septuagenarian showdown

Leamington Spa plays host to bowls septuagenarian showdown
·3 min read

Sleepy Leamington Spa seems a rather perfect place for a septuagenarian showdown for sporting history.

It was here on the manicured bowling greens of Victoria Park, that Scotland's George Miller and his junior, Wales's Gordon Llewellyn, both 75, made their bids to become the oldest Commonwealth Games champions in history.

And, after two tactical hours, it was Miller who took over from fellow Scot Rosemary Lenton, 72, who had only claimed the record for her para women's pairs gold 48 hours earlier.

"I think Rosemary is more pleased than I am," joked Miller, who is the eyes for partially sighted team-mate Melanie Innes who, along with Robert Barr and his director Sarah Jane Ewing, beat Wales 16-9.

"When someone told me I was going to be the oldest competitor and I wondered what that meant, now I'm starting to find out, everyone wants to talk to me all of a sudden.

"It means a lot to me. I started bowling when I was 42 or 43, which is quite late. I just loved the sport straight away, I became a coach and an umpire and then got involved with the visually impaired and physically disabled but to be picked to play for Scotland is just a dream.

"It's a nice record to have, perhaps I can break it again in four years?"

This summer, Team Wales, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, compromises of over 200 athletes, all vying for medal success.

This weekend the Commonwealth Games continues its quest to be relevant for Generation X as e-sports is staged as an exhibition event, ahead of mooted full inclusion on the schedule in four years’ time.

In total 28 nations will contest the medals across three 'titles'. It's fair to say clashes on Dota2 - described as a multiplayer online battle arena – could not be further removed from the genteel surroundings of the Royal Leamington Spa Bowling Club.

Birmingham's venues have been rocking this week but there's no screaming DJs and light shows here, just a ripple of gentle applause, a murmur of appreciation and the tinny music of a passing ice cream van. It’s all rather glorious.

"Bowls is easier for older people - but any sport... walking football, rugby, you name it. Get out there and exercise, play games, compete. It's brilliant whatever age you are," added Miller.

"A year ago I never dreamed of being here. I got a phone call, and nearly fell off my chair to be honest. Here we are - where are we going to go from here?"

Innes praised her Miller as her eyes and ears as Scotland secured their eighth gold of the Games, just one short of their Gold Coast haul with three days competition to come.

"I couldn't do it without George," she said.

"You can't see what's happening or how the balls are running so George has to tell me and give me all that information so I can visualise it. We've done a lot of work together and it's paid off."

Meanwhile, Iain McLean advanced to the men's singles semi-finals as he seeks to become only the fifth Scot to win the title after Robert Sprot, Willie Wood, Richard Corsie and Darren Burnett.

McLean will now face defending champion, Australia's Aaron Wilson, in the last four.

However, there was disappointment for Burnett, Stuart Anderson, Paul Foster and Alex 'Tattie' Marshall, who lost 18-15 to Northern Ireland in the men's four quarter-finals.

National Lottery players raise more than £30million a week for good causes including vital funding into sport – from grassroots to elite. Find out how your numbers make amazing happen at: www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and get involved by using the hashtag: #TNLAthletes.