Bowls England has today announced its preliminary shortlist of athletes that will go for gold at the home Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games as part of Team England. The group will be meeting at Loughborough University this weekend to begin their preparations for what promises to be an incredibly exciting period for the sport.
The squad includes three-time Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist Ellen Falkner and a return to the elite level for fellow Commonwealth Games Gold Medallists Natalie Chestney and Amy Gowshall.
Ed Morris, the men’s national singles champion, has been called up to the elite squad for the first time together with women’s national singles champion Jamie Lea-Winch, who secured medals at the Games in 2010 and 2014, but narrowly missed out on selection for 2018.
The shortlist for the men’s team also includes the current World Triples Champions Jamie Walker, Andrew Knapper and Robert Paxton plus Commonwealth Games medallists Sam Tolchard and Jamie Chestney.
Ten para-athletes will also be included on the inclusive High Performance Programme. These will be announced following discussion with Disability Bowls England who is responsible for organising the initial selection process.
The preparation programme will be led by Commonwealth silver medallist John Mc Guinness who was appointed High Performance Director in February 2019 and will be responsible for managing all aspects of the performance plan. He will be supported by Mo Monkton and Kirk Smith, who will be overseeing the women’s and men’s squads respectively.
Mc Guinness said: “With 11 medals to play for across the men’s, women’s and Para Bowls events, we are fully committed to playing our part in Team England’s success. The focus for the next 12 months will be on assessing individual technical and tactical abilities, while also assessing playing unit compatibility and team cohesion.
“We are delighted that we can engage with specialists in both physiology and psychology to plan and implement a sports science programme that will serve all athletes involved in the High Performance Squad, which will build the foundations for future success.”
The home Commonwealth Games provide Bowls England with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to showcase the sport. As part of the governing body’s strategy development, it is exploring how Birmingham 2022 will be a catalyst to generate greater visibility for the sport, inspire people of all ages and abilities to try bowls and be a spring board for more people spectating at the top matches.
Jon Cockcroft, Bowls England Chief Executive, added: “The Commonwealth Games is the pinnacle event for Lawn Bowls and a home Games is a tremendous opportunity for the sport and its athletes. We are ambitious in our desire to maximize home advantage by making best use of the resources available in support of our athletes, whilst creating the foundations of a performance infrastructure and culture for the future. We will also be seeking to use the brand platform to inspire thousands to take up our inclusive, accessible sport.”
The High Performance Squad is:
Nick Brett (Brampton BC, Huntingdonshire)
Jamie Chestney (Culm Vale BC, Devon)
Andrew Knapper (Tilehurst BC, Berkshire)
Edward Morris (Essex County BC, Essex)
Robert Paxton (Crediton BC, Devon)
Louis Ridout (Kings BC, Devon)
Sam Tolchard (Kings BC, Devon)
Jamie Walker (Northampton West End BC, Northamptonshire)
Natalie Chestney (Kings BC, Devon)
Ellen Falkner (Littleport BC, Cambridgeshire)
Amy Gowshall (Cleethorpes BC, Lincolnshire)
Sian Honnor (Appleyard BC, Kent)
Lorraine Kuhler (Oxford City & County BC, Oxfordshire)
Katherine Rednall (Norfolk BC, Norfolk)
Sophie Tolchard (Kings BC, Devon)
Jamie-Lea Winch (Kingscroft BC, Leicestershire)
The final Team England bowls squad for Birmingham 2022 is expected to be announced late in 2021.