Work to lay the greens at the Kelvingrove Lawn Bowls Centre, which will host the Lawn Bowls competition at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, is nearing completion and today the legendary Willie Wood MBE (73) and 2014 Games hopeful, Sarah Ewing, had the privilege of being the first bowlers on the greens.
The Kelvingrove Lawn Bowls Centre is located on the site of the current bowling greens on either side of Kelvin Way in the West End of Glasgow, immediately adjacent to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, and close to the University of Glasgow.
Five bowling greens have been upgraded to international standard for use during the Games. Works have included the complete reconstruction of greens and ditches, incorporating new drainage and automated irrigation scheme, together with the resurfacing of the footpath network throughout the venue.
The final stage has seen the laying of the turf on to the newly constructed greens, which will be playable from the summer of 2012 onwards. Once complete, the new bowling centre will among the finest in Scotland.
There will be temporary seating for around 2,500 spectators for the Lawn Bowls competitions during the Games and a project to deliver a new pavilion to meet the legacy requirements of club members and casual users following the Games is currently being developed by Glasgow City Council and Glasgow Life.
Willie Wood has had an extraordinarily long and successful international career in lawn bowls, representing Scotland for 45 years from 1966. Having competed in eight Commonwealth Games, Willie is the most capped Scottish Commonwealth Games athlete of all time and has won four Commonwealth Games medals, including two gold medals. Last month he retired from outdoor international competition.
Commenting on the new greens Willie said: “It is a great honour to be asked to deliver the first bowl on the greens that will be used for Glasgow 2014 because the Commonwealth Games holds a very special place in my heart. Some of my greatest achievements and happiest memories are associated with playing for my country.
“The turf looks a brilliant texture. They are obviously not in playing condition yet but they look like they will be really good by the time we get round to 2014. I won’t be playing then but I will certainly be here watching.”
Sarah Ewing is a British Junior Pairs winner and British Isles Junior Singles winner and went to the Commonwealth Games in Delhi last year as part of the Achieve 2014 programme. Last week she competed for the final time as a junior in the Ladies Junior Internationals in Edinburgh and will have a trial later this summer for the ladies senior squad. Sarah has her sights firmly set on competing for Team Scotland in 2014 at this impressive new venue.
The bowlers were joined by representatives of The Glasgow 2014 Organising Committee.
Councillor Archie Graham, Executive Member for the Commonwealth Games at Glasgow City Council, said: “The Kelvingrove Lawn Bowls Centre will provide some of the most memorable images from the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, with Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and the University of Glasgow in the background. Lawn bowls is of course a favourite sport of many people in Glasgow and Scotland, and I am delighted by the progress here as we mark another key step towards the Games and a great sporting facility before and after 2014.”
Michael Cavanagh, Chairman, Commonwealth Games Scotland said: “This is a truly magnificent facility for the bowls competition set against such an iconic backdrop. I am sure it will inspire our bowlers to play to their very best, cheered on by the knowledgeable home crowd. Whilst I am disappointed that Willie Wood won’t be playing for Team Scotland again in 2014, I am delighted that he is the first bowler to play on the new greens here at Kelvingrove, which is a fitting tribute to the years of commitment to his sport and to Commonwealth Games.”
The Kelvingrove Bowls Centre project is expected to be complete by summer 2012.