IMAGE: Getty Images
By Aidan Davis
Australia’s bowls team has once again created history, with the bowlers with a disability triples defeating New Zealand 14-13, with 68-year-old Games debutant Ken Hanson (skip) becoming the oldest Australian Commonwealth Games gold medalist in the process.
The gold is the Jackaroos’ third thus far this campaign and second in the para-sport discipline, completing a clean sweep of the two para-sport events.
Josh Thornton (lead), Tony Bonnell (second) and Hanson raced out to a 10-3 lead and looked all but sure of gold before New Zealand mounted a fightback to win 10 of the next 12 points to take a 13-12 lead ahead of the final end.
With the Kiwis positioning their bowls expertly on the final end, it all came down to Games debutant Hanson with his final two bowls to rescue Australia from defeat.
The Colac-based star did so with aplomb, bringing the crowd to their feet with two delicately placed bowls to de-throne the Kiwi advantage and take a match-winning two-shot lead for the Aussies.
Bowls now hold the record for the two oldest Australian Commonwealth Games gold medalists, after Lynne Seymour (67) set the record just 16 hours ago with victory in the vision-impaired pairs.
The record-breaking trio spoke to reporters post-match.
“It probably hasn’t sunk in yet from my perspective,” said Thornton.
“We’ve been combining well for a long time now and to fulfil our goals and dreams right now is quite amazing.
“I had total faith in the guys behind me. I may not have played the last end like I wanted to. When you get to know your teammates the way we’ve got to know each other, I had faith that Kenny (Hanson) was going to play a couple of rippers which he did.
“That first one… Taking both bowls out clean to give us two, it’s something that will live on as legend.”
“It’s a big high to achieve what we have,” Bonnell said.
“We’ve worked a hard. A lot of preparation and it was good to see the end result of the gold medal.”
“There was no draw shot or anything like that. I let it go as hard as I could and hope I hit the right bowl, which it did. It went on to the other (NZ) bowl which was a bonus and left us with two shots we thought,” Hanson said.
“We were fairly confident that we had two shots which gave us the win, but it was safe to play the shot and that made it a definite.
“If you had told me 18 months ago that I’d be standing here, about to get a gold medal, I would’ve said you’re kidding yourself. I’d never ever even entertained the idea of playing in the Commonwealth Games with a disability. But we’ve been through a lot together us guys and we’re not a bad combination.”