Ayrshire’s World Bowls Pairs Champion Paul Foster believes the experience of competing in front of a home crowd at next summer’s Glasgow Commonwealth Games will be a major highlight in an already successful career.
And to help make this the best ever Games for Scotland he is asking the Scottish public to rally behind the team.
Foster started playing bowls aged 12, since travelling the world collecting top titles; four World Indoor Singles Championships and in major World Bowls Tour (WBT) events.
Competing in last year’s World Championships in Adelaide the Troon 39 year old, together with Scotland’s Alex Marshall, won the Pairs event. In doing so they became the first duo to hold the indoor and outdoor titles in the same year, having already won the WBT Indoor Pairs Championship.
Foster is no newcomer to the Commonwealth Games, having won the gold medal in the Pairs at Melbourne in 2006. With more success in mind for the Glasgow Games he is preparing hard to qualify for Team Scotland.
“I put in lots of hard work and a lot of hard training which in the 2006 Melbourne Games paid off”, says Foster, who runs a busy taxi company.
“Now, once again, I’m putting the work in and hopefully if I can get the right results in the selection events then in 9 months time I can be picked and selected for Scotland.”
“I’m playing three or four times a week indoors and it will be the same outdoors and I’m keeping myself very fit. A lot of people wonder why you need to keep fit for bowls but you certainly do because the games can take three or four hours.”
Bowls is a core Commonwealth Games sport and since the Games began in 1930 Scottish bowlers have won 13 gold, 7 silver and 8 bronze medals.
Scottish Bowls in is in particularly good health after exceptional performances in December’s World Championships in Adelaide where Scotland won six medals, three of them gold. This means lawn bowls has already met phase 1 of the selection standards, effectively securing a full team of five men’s and five women’s places for Glasgow. Players will now battle it out to earn individual selection to the team.
In Scotland the game has 880 member clubs and approximately 73,000 registered bowlers, making bowls one of the biggest sports in the country and Scotland the world’s third largest bowls nation.
Such a large base of players and a massive talent pool means places in the team will be keenly fought over.
“To be part of Team Scotland would be fantastic because the Commonwealth Games will be in Glasgow and there’s nothing better than representing your country in your own city centre”, said Foster.”
There is a strong bond amongst the Scottish men’s and women’s bowls squads and each major competition is approached as a unified and supportive team. To support them on Glasgow the team need the whole of Scotland to get behind them and maximise home advantage.
“There are still 15 months to go, but a lot of people are already talking about the Games, especially back home in Ayrshire”, says Foster.
“I would urge people go along and support the Commonwealth Games because it doesn’t happen very often and this time it’s going to be in Scotland.”
“And I’m trying to get everybody rallying behind the team. I know what it is like to compete in Delhi, Adelaide and Melbourne where you get some support from spectators. But to have it in your own country with a big Scottish crowd is going to be absolutely fantastic and it makes your performance a lot better.”
Photo Credit: Alistair Devine