Sun, May 26, 2024 12:00 PM

More World Bowls glory for region’s top male


Jack Malcolm

Shannon McIlroy is on the World Championship podium again, returning home with bronze around his neck.

Adding to his list of accolades, including over 400 tests for New Zealand and a World Outdoor Singles championship in a 20-year career, his most recent challenge saw him head to the Channel Islands to play in the World Indoor Bowls Championships.

With games played in a full-size indoor facility, Shannon says it was a lot like regular bowls as he raced away to an early lead by winning his section.

Having travelled 46 hours to play, Shannon almost missed out on playing when a one-hour layover turned into 10 after he was caught up in the flooding in the UAE.

He wasn’t even originally selected to play, receiving the call up less than a month before the tournament and jumping on board.

“It was a wee bit of time, but not enough to get yourself fully prepared. I knew what to do to fast-track my training,” he says.

Winning his section meant Shannon skipped the first elimination round but found himself in a tough end of the draw and fell just short in his semi-final match-up against England.

“I held the game to be in the final end, but the last bowl of our match he had in his hand and I couldn’t do anything about it. That’s the luck of the coin toss.”

Shannon says that at the highest levels of competition, it’s hard to set expectations for himself because he knows that if he plays well, he has the skills to win against anyone.

“Sometimes expectations can be your downfall. The internal expectations and the external pressure of people at home wanting you to do well.

“It’s all about trying to mitigate those pressures that are uncontrollable and just play the game, because the game doesn’t change. At the elite level, it’s our thought processes that change.”

Shannon says he’s now looking forward to “switching off bowls” for a bit as he takes a breakthrough winter.

He says it’s nice to be able to support his kids and their winter sports, with no plans of going to Australia this off-season.

“It is a time-consuming sport. And the better you are and the more you keep succeeding, the more you seem to play because people keep inviting you to events and you play because there’s a big carrot at the end of it.”

His next scheduled tournament is New Zealand’s Champion of Champions singles in July at the Dunedin Lawn Bowls Stadium, which he and his wife, Amy, will play in.

Shannon says that while it’s just him out there playing, he wouldn’t be where he is without the support of the wider local bowling community.

“Stoke Bowling Club is my home club and I can’t thank them enough for the help they contribute to these events. It definitely makes it easier for me as a player to just play the game.”

Nelson App is owned by Top South Media. a locally owned media company.