Rachel Mackriell is a familiar face on the Leamington greens at the National Finals. Having won the ‘double’ in 2019, when she secured both the Women’s Senior Singles and Senior Pairs titles, she was close to another victory in 2021. It would have been consecutive Senior Singles gongs for the Polegrave BC bowler, but she lost to Janet Williamson 21-20 at the Semi Final stage.
“Looking back at the ‘if onlys’ can haunt – as is being stuck on 20 (!),” Rachel told us, “but Janet’s tenacity and play was brilliant.” Although it was not to be on this occasion for her, it seems her passion for competitions only grows each year.
“Any match is a challenge which I never tire of responding to. I hope that the spirit and way that I play encourages and inspires. I never have expectation of success at Leamington. The enjoyment of playing bowls, the challenge each delivery gives and giving spectators entertainment is never pressurizing.”
Looking back at her rain-soaked triumph in the Senior Singles in 2019, Rachel recalls that things did not go to plan to begin with. “I was well down at the beginning. Relaxing and remembering to enjoy the aesthetics and challenge of every delivery made a difference. I’m always encouraged by my mental strength and pleased therefore not to be perturbed by the conditions or break in the game. My opponent was very nice and that helps feeling good!”
Rachel took up bowls in 1999, having grown up playing lots of other sports – a number of which she had followed to county level.
A serious knee injury, however, prevented her from doing anything involving running and jumping. “Lawn bowls felt like a gift after years of no competitive or recreational sport.
“Although the aesthetics of the game captured me most, the joy of satisfying my competitive nature kept me coming back for more.”
Demonstrating her wish for the sport to grow, she points out that the thrill of winning is temporary, whereas “what remained was a hope that it would give a platform for promoting the sport in my locality.”
Her Senior Pairs success, a few days before the Senior Singles, demonstrated how accessible bowls is to people of all ages. “It was an incredible honour and delight to partner an 83-year-old, Lorraine Hume, who will probably never have the opportunity again.”
Rachel thrives on the atmosphere around the green. “The Australians have something special when it comes to including on-lookers in matches and welcoming their interaction. I think we could do so much if we could transform this area.”
She finished by encouraging people to enter competitions where possible.
“Anything is possible [when you enter National Competitions]. Use every match to gain experience. Get into a good progressive club and grab hold of players you want to play with. Don’t waste any years.”
And why does Rachel keep entering?
“For the challenge and enjoyment of playing bowls with friends.”
Want to play bowls competitively and challenge yourself? If you are a member of a Bowls England affiliated club, you can enter our National Competitions. You can find out which competitions you’re eligible for here, or you can head straight to our entry portal here. The closing date for entries is Tuesday 1st March 2022.