England bowler Ellen Falkner MBE has decided to call time on her glittering international career. The three-times Commonwealth Games gold medallist, who first represented her country at senior level in 2002, was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s honours 2020 for her outstanding contribution to the sport of bowls.
Falkner’s name has become synonymous with the sport since she won Gold in the Fours at the Manchester Commonwealth Games in 2002. Two further golds, in the Pairs (2010) and Triples (2014) would follow, as well as a Bronze medal on the Gold Coast in 2018, making her the second most decorated English lawn bowler in Commonwealth Games history.
Her other achievements are lengthy. She has amassed six World Championship titles (two gold, three silver and one bronze), ten Atlantic Championship titles (five gold, three silver and two bronze), two eight nation titles (both gold), won six British Isles Championship titles and gained 72 caps competing in the British Isles Women’s International Series. Representing her home county of Cambridgeshire, Falkner has won multiple national titles and celebrated victory in the Women’s Champion of Champions tournament just a few weeks ago. She has spent the past year in the Performance Squad competing for selection to represent England in a sixth Commonwealth Games next year.
Despite a further opportunity to represent England at Birmingham 2022, Ellen’s retirement has been accelerated by a time-bound opportunity to fulfil a long-standing ambition to emigrate to Australia. She has accepted a role working in Australia’s Para Bowls programme.
“Stepping back from my international playing career is one of the hardest things I have ever done. It’s been a big part of my life and who I am for so long. I am hugely grateful and thankful for the opportunities I have had and have always tried to represent my country with pride, passion and determination since my junior international debut in 1997. Bowls has enabled me to travel the world, make friends for life and given me the courage to take risks and continually challenge myself. It is these attributes that have helped myself and husband Chris to make the life changing decision to move to Australia and take up an exciting career opportunity following being granted a permanent resident Visa. Covid-19 has made us think about what we would like from life, that you only live once and to follow our dreams rather than always wonder. I count myself as incredibly lucky to have met so many great people and I would genuinely like to thank all those who have shared this journey with me, at club, county and international level and for the memories we have made both on and off the green. I will miss you.”
Bowls England’s Performance Director, John McGuinness, said, “We are hugely thankful for Ellen’s contribution to bowls in England on and off the green. Her record stands for itself; she has been a pleasure to work with and is an exemplary role model to any player aspiring to reach the top of our sport. Her desire to see the game develop and the time she invested in coaching our para athletes has been an inspiration to so many.”
Jon Cockcroft, Bowls England Chief Executive, added, “Ellen’s service to our sport over the past two decades has been unparalleled and the MBE she received last year was fitting recognition of her outstanding contribution to bowls. We know how difficult a decision this was for Ellen, and, whilst we are very sad to see her go, we wish her and Chris well as they embark on this new chapter of their lives.”