On top of the worlds
JAMIE MacDonald and Gaynor Thomas earned themselves places in next April's World Indoor Bowls Council championships in Belfast after winning Island singles championships at the weekend.
But before that they will be contesting the CI finals, in Guernsey next month, for the honour of competing in the British Isles championships.
Thomas said she was delighted to win the Island title, her third.
'I've been Island champion before, but Alison (Camacho) won it last year and the year before, so it's nice to have it again.' Thomas spends a large part of her leisure time bowling, in the leagues several times a week, and in weekend competitions.
'To play at this level means you have to commit to a lot of time, winning the title back makes it worth it,' she said.
She is no newcomer to World Bowls as she reached the semi-final stages two years ago, and she is looking forward to meeting old friends there.
'I'll be playing mixed doubles with Jamie, too, so that'll be nice.
But to get to the British Isles competition I have to play the Guernsey lady first, and it's probably going to be Allison Merrien, who's always tough to beat.' Teenager MacDonald, who only recently moved up to senior level, said: 'I'm very chuffed to have won the Island title - but I wasn't especially pleased with the way I played.
I think I was trying too hard, though I played well in the rest of the tournament.' He has played against Guernsey before, again at junior level, in both singles and fours, and reached the semi-final last year.
'It'll be a bit different this year, although I'll know what to expect and it will be tough,' and, he says, the thought of competing in Belfast is exciting rather than scary.
'I'm just beginning to realise that I'm going to be playing in the World tournament.' In the men's final, MacDonald beat Gus Hodgetts 21-19, from being 19-14 behind, with his fighting spirit coming to the fore as he collected a three, a two and two ones on the remaining four ends.
MacDonald had beaten Derek Boswell 21-15 in their semi-final, while Hodgetts was up against 17-year-old Scott Ruderham.
Hodgetts was ahead 12-11 at 13 ends and went on to claim his place in the final 21-13.
In the ladies' final Thomas - who beat Tracy O'Connor, a newcomer to indoor bowls, 21-2 in the semi-final - beat Lindsey Greechan 21-15 to win the title, although Greechan had taken an early 7-4 lead.
Thomas then went ahead, then they tied at 13 each after 12 ends, but Thomas went on to victory.
On her way to the final, Greechan had beaten current (and two-times) champion Alison Camacho 21-13.
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