As a four-time Commonwealth Games medallist and one of the big success stories at Birmingham 2022 few would dispute that Sian Honnor is currently one of the highest-profile names in lawn bowls.
But despite her glittering career on the international stage, the 34-year-old says she still gets excited about returning to Victoria Park to compete in the National Finals where this year she contests the Women’s Pairs before joining Kent county colleagues in the Walker Cup.
“The Nationals is a big event and a highlight of the bowls calendar so I’m very proud to be representing my club – the Appleyard in Sittingbourne – and playing in the pairs with a really good friend,” she said.
“We won the final of the Kent pairs together last Tuesday and we’ve come through some tough games during the season.
“I’m also in the Walker Cup for Kent County women in the double rink competition. The National Finals are a result of a season of hard work in your team so naturally I look forward to playing and seeing what we can achieve.”
Sian said that returning to the scene of her Commonwealth Games win only a few weeks after Victoria Park was awash with noisy support for Team England will be a slightly strange experience.
“The atmosphere will be different but the last few weeks have proved what is possible at that venue and in particular what happens when you get a crowd including a lot of non-bowling fans,” she said.
“We were all looking forward to a home games, but we definitely didn’t fully appreciate just what a difference the incredible support we got from the crowds would make. We could pick out faces but you could also hear people and they massively lifted us in the final and helped us throw ourselves over the line.
“When we were sitting in the stands supporting our teammates we were chatting to the people who were there and quite a few had very little link with bowls – they had just bought tickets for the games and were loving being involved.
“There were loads of family groups and it was fantastic to be able to showcase our sport to that new audience – it would be great if we get some of those people along again at the National Finals because they want to see more and to discover what bowls is all about.”
The two-time gold medallist acknowledged that starting anew after the emotional high of Birmingham 2022 does present a challenge but said it is part of sporting life.
“The final was a tough game on a tricky very fast rink,” she said. “We just couldn’t seem to get clear of Malaysia until a pivotal point in the match when I had the chance to attack the head and we managed to get a four out of it which turned the whole game around. We also won the next two ends after that which gave us lots of momentum.
“It will be a challenge to lift myself again following such a huge high but you have to reset and start again. It is a different event and it doesn’t matter that we won a gold last time because you’re now doing something different, playing with different people in another competition and you’re only as good as the game you’re playing now.”
Sian said returning to her daily routine at home and in her job at Middlesex University has helped her come down from her Commonwealth Games high.
“I pretty much went straight back to work on the Monday after the Games – in fact I did a bit of work while it was going on which helped take my mind off it by allowing me to throw myself into something else,” she said.
“They were very supportive throughout – I’m not sure they fully understood bowls until they watched it – but it was very nice to have them behind me. I haven’t actually been in to the office yet so they haven’t seen the medal although I did get a message asking if I get to keep it!
“I have to admit I don’t have any of my medals on display at home – that’s not really my style. My husband always moans at me about it but I believe you don’t need to keep looking at the medals as it’s the memories that it’s all about.”
Tickets to the National Finals start at just £4 for adults and £1 for Under 21s offer a full day of top-class sporting action. Tickets increase to £5.50 adults and £1.50 Under 21s at weekends. Event passes are available and all tickets are cheaper in advance.
Please note: U16s must be accompanied by an adult. Under 3s enter free of charge.
National Finals – Bowls England – An Event Not To Be Missed