Three decades in competitive bowls has yielded a half›century of centre titles for one Lawrence woman.
Clutha Valley Bowling Club member Eileen Grant (76) recorded the milestone earlier this season, but said — in the moment — she had needed to be reminded by team›mate Avis Rishworth.
‘‘We were at Balclutha playing in the ladies’ open pairs and had a terrific final against Bronnie Cowie and Glynis Barclay, which we just won 14›13.
‘‘I knew in the back of my mind I was somewhere close [to 50], but I was caught up in the moment as much as anything.’’
Grant said she felt ‘‘elated’’ when her achievement was pointed out to her, and those present celebrated with an afternoon tea.
‘‘It definitely feels like an achievement, but it’s my style to take it one match at a time, with no particular target other than to do my best on the day.
‘‘You always hope for a win or two. If not, there’s always a wine or two.’’
Grant began bowling in 1987 at the Lawrence Bowling Club, since closed.
‘‘I loved my junior years. I learnt such a lot from the Lawrence members, and I remember Bill Clements visiting from Alexandra for a coaching clinic as well.
‘‘He showed the line, and the use of the mat.’’
In 1991, Grant picked up her first centre title, as ladies’ junior singles champion of champions, and said she had not looked back since.
‘‘I’ve been lucky to be selected for rep teams consistently. But you couldn’t do it without the support of your team mates and clubs. There are too many ladies to mention to whom I’m grateful.’’
She said one of many highlights of her career had been finishing runner› up in the New Zealand singles at Blenheim, in 1997.
‘‘There were 27 players from throughout the country competing, and a car as the star prize.
‘‘Unfortunately I didn’t win that car, but the girls did a special presentation at breakfast the next day — they’d bought me a Matchbox car instead.’’
A member of Clutha Valley Bowling Club since Lawrence closed in 2014, Grant said bowls was a friendly sport, suitable for a wide range of people and personalities.
‘‘I’ve always been competitive, and that’s led me to roles as lead and skip over the years.
‘‘But what I love about outdoor bowls is it’s simply a day out in the fresh air with your friends.’’
She put the secret of her longevity and successes down to fitness and determination.
‘‘I’m a member of a walking club and [husband and fellow bowler] David and I keep active.
‘‘But you can only ever play as well as your opposition lets you.’’
Grant remarked on the previous centre title record of the late Bill Barron, who notched up 41 titles during his playing years.
‘‘I always used to marvel at Bill’s achievement. He was such a gentleman.
‘‘Sometimes I have to pinch myself to believe I’ve made my own milestone.’’