Rugby's Jamie-Lea Winch selected for England's Commonwealth Games bowls team
The Rugby star, 31, will help spearhead a 16-strong English team in Birmingham this summer bidding to build on her Delhi 2010 bronze and Glasgow 2014 silver.
Winch narrowly missed out on selection for the Gold Coast four years ago and has been putting in the hard yards to haul herself back into contention.
The bowls event will take place at Victoria Park in Leamington Spa – the home of the sport – this summer and resilient Winch, who works in financial services away from the green, hopes she can hit the jackpot in front of her supporting friends and family.
The former Bilton BC and Thornfield ace, speaking ahead of Bowls’ Big Weekend on May 27-29, said: “It felt amazing to see the announcement that I’d been selected.“Especially after the last Commonwealth Games, where I just missed out on being picked for the team.
“It was obviously really disappointing for me personally to miss out four years ago.
“I would have loved to have had the opportunity to play in those Games, but it did spur me on to do better and improve my own game.
“I really put my head down, did a lot of training and I’m really pleased that it’s paid off. It’s what dreams are made of and I’m really excited about representing my country once again.
“It’s extra special with the Games being held in Birmingham, and Leamington as well is really close to home for me.
“It adds that extra layer to it – it’s an honour to be selected anyway, but the fact it’s at Leamington, close to where I grew up in Warwickshire, being the home of bowls will be fantastic to showcase the sport.
"I’ll see lots of familiar faces, people who I grew up with in the area, friends and family in the stands and it will be really special.”
Winch has racked up four European and three Atlantic Championship medals since 2013 and scooped fours World Championship silver six years ago alongside Ellen Falkner, Rebecca Wigfield and Wendy King.
And her pair of Commonwealth medals in 2010 and 2014 – in the triples and pairs events – have put the seal on a decorated bowling career.
The sport is catapulted into the international spotlight at the Games every four years and will now look to build on the success of Bowls’ Big Weekend later this month.More than 750 clubs will open their doors for the innovative bonanza, with the weekend functioning as a great opportunity for families to enjoy the sport casually together for the first time.The weekend forms the perfect precursor for this summer’s Leamington Spa showpiece and Winch, who represents Kingscroft BC in Leicester, added: “Bowls and the Commonwealth Games is the pinnacle of the sport.“It gives us an opportunity to show people who haven’t watched bowls in the past what it’s like, and the fact it gives us that profile as part of wider Team England is great.“Bowls is quite an addictive sport – it’s quite easy to follow and it can get really exciting when the games get close or go to an extra end.“We want to go there and play our best bowls - we’re working really hard in preparation.“Gold is the colour we’re aiming for. I’ve had bronze and silver in past Games so it would be brilliant to top it off with a gold medal.“It’s about making sure we can make the most of the opportunity.”
Find your nearest participating club at http://www.bowlsbigweekend.com