Commonwealth Games raises bowls profile in Warwickshire - The Leamington Observer

Commonwealth Games raises bowls profile in Warwickshire

Leamington Editorial 27th Aug, 2022   0

THE CEO of Bowls England says the Commonwealth Games has helped to raise the profile of Leamington as the home of English bowls and hopes Team England’s medal haul will lead to more people playing the sport in Warwickshire.

The lawn bowls team stayed at Royal Leamington Spa College throughout the tournament and secured two Gold, two Silver and three Bronze medals.

Matches were played at Victoria Park in Leamington – with more than 5,000 people of all ages and abilities trying their hand in the pop-up bowls arena in the Pump Room Gardens.

Bowls England hosts its National Finals in Leamington, which get underway from Thursday, August 25 at Victoria Park, and run until Sunday September 11.

The venue at Victoria Park saw significant investment, supported by Warwick District Council, in the lead up the Commonwealth Games and is widely recognised as one the sport’s premier venues worldwide.

Jon Cockcroft, CEO of Bowls England, said: “The schedule in the games was pretty intense, and while there wasn’t much downtime for our athletes, the reception we had throughout the games in Leamington was great.

“Staying at Royal Leamington Spa College was a massive performance gain for us. It enabled players to nip back for a rest during the day and avoid having to drive back to the athlete’s village.

“That flexibility proved really important and the proximity to the venue also meant that it was easier for our athletes to support their teammates.

“Victoria Park is up there as one of the best venues in the world. There has to be massive credit given to Warwick District Council and Birmingham 2022 for the work they put into the greens and it will be massive for our sport from a legacy perspective.

“We want Victoria Park to be a comparable standard facility to what Lord’s and Wimbledon are in their respective sports.

“The key thing about bowls is that everyone who watched it during the Games will think they can do it, and our team reflected that – with ages from 22 to 74 and men, women and para athletes all competing. It’s a sport that is genuinely accessible and inclusive.

“The visibility we have had through the Commonwealth Games is invaluable. For many years, a lot of people in Leamington haven’t been aware that the home of English bowls is on their doorstep – but they certainly are now!

“There should be a sense of civic pride that a venue of this standard is here in Leamington, and we hope that when we put on events in the future – be It national finals or international tournaments – that we will have a lot of local people coming down to watch.”

John McGuinness, performance director at Bowls England, thanked the college for its hospitality.

He said: “The college experience was very positive and we were looked after well. The catering team in particular did a marvellous job, the quality and service was second to none and they made the team feel very welcome.

“We made the decision three years ago to stay nearer to the venue and I think that definitely contributed to our success. It was our most successful Commonwealth Games to date and overall, we are very proud of what we achieved.”


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