Newly crowned English indoor bowls champion Janice Gower admits “I’m still pinching myself” as an amazing week for herself and the Blackpool Newton Hall club sinks in.
READ MORE: Gower's English championship glory
Gower’s glory in the women’s singles at the English Indoor Bowling Association Championships crowned a great week in Melton Mowbray for the Staining-based club.
Blackpool Newton Hall clubmates Jonathan Goodall and world champion Mark Dawes won the men’s pairs title.
It was beginning to look a case of so near and yet so far in these championships for 45-year-old Gower as she reached the semi-finals in three competitions without making a final. That all changed in the showpiece singles competition, in which she overcame Taunton’s Kirsty Hembrow 21-16 to qualify for a nailbiting final in which Gower edged past 16-year-old Devon Cooper of Hitchen 21-20.
Having just missed out on the final of the two-bowl singles and triples, Gower’s bid for the pairs title ended in bizarre circumstances.
Her pairs partner Sue Kearsley suffered a shoulder injury lifting a suitcase into her car, forcing the Blackpool duo to pull out of their semi-final.
Gower recalled: “Having won it back in 2015, my best friend Sue and I were on top of our game and ready to go.
“We then had to concede the semi-final, and then spending an afternoon in hospital with Sue would not be considered the best preparation for the ultimate challenge in English indoor bowls – going for the singles title.
“Eight days in and I had already been on the rink for almost 30 hours and had three national semi-finals already in the bag.
“But I believe in fate as well as hard work. I played 13 matches and have worked with a personal trainer Lee Jones to drop weight and get fitter for such marathons. I have also been working with top bowls coach David Gourlay on big-game preparation.
“I also have such a supportive partner (Richard Maddieson) and proud parents (Maureen and Ted France).
“They always say it’s the little improvements that make the difference and I have worked hard to make them. Fate saw me lift the most coveted title in the game in England. And I’m still pinching myself.”