IMAGE|| MICHAEL WILLSON
Following nine days of competition on the familiar surrounds of Broadbeach Bowls Club, Australia’s Jackaroos has emerged from the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games with its most successful ever performance.
Eclipsing Melbourne 2006’s performance of three gold, one silver and one bronze, 12 years later and again on home soil, the Jackaroos secured five gold and two silver in what was a monumental Games.
Significantly, two of those five gold medals came via the two para-sport events, with our vision-impaired pairs and bowlers with a disability men’s triples producing two remarkable campaigns, breaking records in the process.
Some further figures/records that highlight the dominance of the Jackaroos performance across both the able-bodied and para-sport disciplines:
– It was the fourth-most prolific gold medal Australian team across all sports
– If the Jackaroos were a nation, they’d place 14th on the overall medal tally
– The Jackaroos now hold the two oldest Australian Commonwealth Games medallists in Ken Hanson (68) and Lynne Seymour (67)
A breakdown of each discipline:
Men’s Singles – GOLD
Aaron Wilson famously secured gold in the men’s singles final with a 21-14 victory. Ryan Bester again collecting his second-successive silver medal in a Commonwealth Games.
Women’s Singles – Quarterfinal
Unfortunately not the fairytale campaign for five-time Games playing member Karen Murphy who was eliminated in the quarterfinals to South Africa’s Colleen Piketh, an opponent who she had defeated in the sectional rounds.
Men’s Pairs – Quarterfinal
Wilson and Brett Wilkie were upset by Malta in the quarterfinals of the men’s pairs 13-15, with their victors going on to compete in the bronze medal match.
Women’s Pairs – Quarterfinal
Murphy and Kelsey Cottrell gallantly fell by a single shot to Scotland 15-16 in the quarterfinals, with the Scots going on to win bronze.
Men’s Triples – SILVER
Barrie Lester, Nathan Rice and Aron Sherriff fell 14-19 to world champions Scotland in the gold medal match.
Women’s Triples – GOLD
The second of our ‘Golden Girls’ triumphs with Carla Krizanic, Natasha Scott and Rebecca van Asch comprehensively defeating Scotland 21-12 following a flawless campaign.
Men’s Fours – SILVER
Another admirable effort from our male bowlers, with Lester, Wilkie, Rice and Sherriff falling 13-15 to Scotland on the very last end of the men’s fours final.
Women’s Fours – GOLD
A dominant performance from the fours of Cottrell, Krizanic, Scott and van Asch who defeated South Africa 18-16 in the final.
Vision-impaired Mixed Pairs – GOLD
Historic performance from Lynne Seymour (Bob Seymour – Director) and Jake Fehlberg (Grant Fehlberg – Director) who triumphed over South Africa 12-9 in the final, with Seymour holding a 15-hour record as Australia’s oldest ever Commonwealth Games gold medalist before Ken Hanson took the record.
BWD Men’s Triples – GOLD
A gritty performance from Josh Thornton, Tony Bonnell and Ken Hanson with the latter producing two iconic clutch shots late in the piece to topple New Zealand by a single shot, 14-13.
Perhaps one of the highlights for the entire Team Australia from the Games was the result of the men’s singles final and subsequent celebration from debutant Aaron Wilson.
The 26-year-old produced an incredible final to topple Broadbeach resident and widely regarded as one of the best players in the world in Canada’s Ryan Bester.
Affectionately known as ‘Disco’, Wilson spoke on SEN 1116’s Without Bias program about his golden moment and ‘that’ celebration, mirroring scenes from Australia’s last gold medal in the singles back in Melbourne, 2006, where Kelvin Kerkow too ripped his shirt off in delight.
“Just before the event started, he [Kelvin Kerkow] sent me a little video clip of his game [from 2006] and it was pretty inspiring to watch,” he said.
“It sort of feels like it’s going to be a bit of a legacy now. Regardless of whether it’s me or someone else playing the singles, if they ever get the opportunity I think it might come out again.
“It still hasn’t really sunk in quite yet at the moment. Just really embracing doing a few things with the media and my friends getting all around me so it feels pretty cool,” he said.
“It was such a good campaign for the Aussies with seven medals in total which is outstanding.”
On the final itself, Wilson spoke of his pre-match doubts and the swings throughout the match which ultimately fell his way.
“I must admit I was pretty nervous overall,” he said.
“Especially playing Ryan Bester… One of the best singles players of all time.
“You just always knew that it was going to be a tough game. I was down early but to get a few shots in the middle of the game, I eventually got on top and it was awesome.
“Singles is such a funny game in that you’re never actually out of the game regardless of the score.
“Momentum is such a big part of the game of bowls and once you get on top, just run with it and get as many ends as you can, it really adds up.”
Pulling the strings in the backroom was national coach Steve Glasson, who, supported by his coaching staff and Bowls Australia (BA) High Performance team, prepared and guided the Jackaroos to a spectacular outcome on the Gold Coast.
Glasson also spoke on Without Bias with Jack Heverin.
“We talked about KPIs before the event and expectations of success or otherwise, but the wash-up with five gold and two silver, we’re absolutely delighted,” he said.
“And I’ve got to be honest, we can improve. There are areas we can improve on, but we’re not going to worry about that too much right now. We’re just going to take in a moment or two just to enjoy and savour it.
“In the near future, we’ll get cracking on to what we’ve got to do going into Worlds (Championships) and beyond, Birmingham (2022) and so forth.”
Glasson also reserved special praise for the ‘Hollywood’ feel of our Women’s Fours.
“This is a movie,” he said on the Women’s Fours.
“I don’t know what actors are going to play them but I’m sure we’ll work that out in due course… We go back to the 2016 World Championships in New Zealand and the very same four were zero wins from three matches. A decision was made to switch the team around which obviously worked out correct but embraced by the girls.
“Anytime you switch a team around it can either go up skywards or very much go downhill very quickly… They’re yet to be defeated since then (2006 World Champs).”
The strength of the para-sport integration into the Jackaroos setup, from pre-Games and right throughout, was also an area of the campaign Glasson and his team were extremely proud about.
“It’s been a very interesting story and I think the players, both the able-bodied and para-sport need to be congratulated,” he said.
“We’ve spent an awful lot of time together and for the para-sport teams, in particular, to come in and fit into the dynamics of the Jackaroos is a big ask. It’s probably like changing schools or going to a new job where you’re not sure of the environment, the culture and behavioural requirements.
“The Brad Pitt of lawn bowls Ken Hanson, the King of Colac, is a wonderful story.
“Ken came in and was as quiet as a church mouse. In one on ones and different opportunities to speak, I felt as if he felt he shouldn’t be there, that he had no right to be there, etc.
“As he grew in his confidence I suppose within the group, and his belief that he should be there so did his own personality.
“Now he’s just a wonderful story-teller. He’s very much ingrained in the Jackaroos environment and so that’s just one of the many stories.”