Tom Bishop secured the 2013 World Bowls Champion of Champions title at Burnside BC in New Zealand at the age of just 22!
Tom takes a trip down memory lane and recalls how his mother only knew he’d won when he stepped onto the top step of the podium.
What was the experience like?
The whole event was amazing. I could have lost every match but still thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It was just a pleasure to play against such high quality opponents on such good greens. There are no easy games because everyone was a national champion and because of that there was a massive amount of respect between the players.
I remember on a practice day sat at a table with Robert Weale and Roy Garden who have both won Commonwealth Singles Gold and thinking how special it was. After a days play most players would enjoy a couple drinks before the arranged minibus took us back to our accommodation (a university halls) and we would then order takeaway to there to enjoy. It was great to socialise with the other players and officials and I feel lucky to have had the chance to meet them and make some fantastic friends. The atmosphere because of this around the greens made it the most enjoyable week of bowls I have been able to play in.
Burnside was also a perfect venue. 3 very fast greens, with a massive clubhouse in comparison to what we are used to back home. The members too were so welcoming and it was great each evening to enjoy a beer and chat with them. I and a couple others did not receive the bowls we were hoping to use for the tournament but the friendly Burnside members on hearing this one evening, ended up lending us their bowls. So I am greatly indebted to Swede who not only lent me his bowls but even offered to give them to me after winning the final. I declined because I could never use them back in the UK and to have a new set of bowls sit in a cabinet would be a waste, but the offer was very touching and summed up how lovely the New Zealand people are.
The greens were very quick (17.5 seconds at 8am!) and it took a few days to settle to it. When I lost to Shaun Scott from New Zealand in the group stages, he played a lot of minimum length jacks and I felt at the time that I could not slow my delivery down much more to have the control. The wind also played havoc, so being brought up on the south coast and blustery conditions probably aided me. However I cannot describe how tricky it was by the end of the week – our greens are just not quick enough to ever have that experience.
What were your expectations going into the event?
To be honest I did not have any expectations of what to expect of the event – I just went with an open mind and to try and enjoy the experience as much as I could. I was struggling for form at the time indoors and so did not put pressure on myself. I was in my final year at Aston University and all my assignments were due in when I was in New Zealand so for several weeks before flying out I was cramming to get them completed. It wasn’t the ideal preparation but in many ways it meant it was almost a relief when I finally was on the plane out there.
How did it feel to win?
At the moment of winning I did not know what to do. I was so focussed during the game, on every bowl, that I had locked the emotion away. I remember with a few ends to go in the second set that it dawned on me I was potentially a good bowl or two away from winning and that realisation broke my focus. So the last few ends I was trying to regain composure and I was thankful to have my Dad sat nearby who I gave a hug after the match. My Mum gets too nervous for me when I play so she had gone walk about in the local neighbourhood and she returned when she could hear announcements on the tannoy system. She did not even know if I had won and had to wait to see the position on the podium to know!
Would you recommend the experience?
I am sure every person that has won the national singles will always be able to remember the moment they won like it was yesterday. Personally for me it is the only time I have come off a rink and welled up with a combination of relief and happiness. Give yourself the opportunity to have that special moment. I feel emotional thinking about it still.
Winning also gets you the additional privileges of representing England at British Isles and World Champion of Champions.
Bowls England’s National Competitions are open to players of all abilities – with a range of events designed to meet your individual requirements.
We particularly welcome entries from those who may not have entered one of our competitions before, as this is a great opportunity to improve your game, take on one of our elite athletes and perhaps win a place in the National Finals at Royal Leamington Spa.