The 2019 Asia Pacific Championships are due to begin tomorrow with competitors from 18 countries set to compete on arguably the world’s best greens in Gold Coast.
Hosts Australia will be eager to continue their gold medal rush from the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at the 11-day event, a qualifying event for the 2020 World Bowls Championships in the same city.
Former captain Lynsey Clarke headlines three new inclusions named in the Australian women’s team.
Clarke, 35, returns to the national fold following a 15-month international hiatus to raise two children, including the birth of her second less than a year ago.
The Trans Tasman Test Series in November 2017 was the last international outing for 328-game stalwart, whose own Club Helensvale will be one of three host venues alongside Broadbeach and Musgrave Hill Bowls Clubs.
Also on the women’s team is Kelsey Cottrell, who will return to singles duty for the first time since the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, as well as the three other members of Australia’s Gold Coast 2018 gold medal-winning fours team – Carla Krizanic, Rebecca Van Asch and Natasha Scott.
Van Asch will steer the triples as skip of an unchanged triumphant line-up from Gold Coast 2018 that also includes Krizanic and Scott.
Scott, meanwhile, will again take command of the fours, which now features Clarke as lead, Krizanic as second and Van Asch as third.
Just over 24hrs until the Asia Pacific Games gets rolling on the Gold Coast ...looking forward to representing our great country with these legends over the next 10 days @85omar @nathrice79 @PearseRay @LynseyArmitage @kelc68 @C_Dodger @vaneldik77 @BecVA79 #🇦🇺 pic.twitter.com/hylthu0KvR— Barrie Lester (@122blest) June 16, 2019
Headlining the home nation’s men’s team are in-form New South Wales pair Ray Pearse and Aaron Teys.
Following a standout year in 2018, which included a maiden national title in the form of the Australian Championships' singles crown in December, Pearse has been handed the blue-ribbon singles position.
Rising star Teys, 25, has secured a spot as one of the main five men for the first time, having only previously represented Australia as a part of extended squads in three events.
Bolstering the men’s line-up are three players who claimed triples and fours silver medals at Gold Coast 2018 – skip Aron Sherriff of Club Helensvale, Nathan Rice and Barrie Lester.
Looking to rain on Australia’s parade will be a number of strong bowling nations, with many of their players having experienced the Gold Coast conditions during the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Among them is New Zealand, who have recalled a number of players into a rejigged squad with Wendy Jensen, Kirsten Edwards, Gary Lawson and Jamie Hill all returning to the national fold.
Lawson is an eight-times Asia Pacific Championships medallist, with Ali Forsyth not far behind with five podium finishes and also included in the squad.
The Kiwis are further boosted by familiar faces in Jo Edwards, Val Smith, Shannon McIlroy and Broadbeach local Katelyn Inch.