Gower gets set to make history

Newton Hall Indoor Bowls Club's Janice Gower
Newton Hall Indoor Bowls Club's Janice Gower
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A ladies bowler is getting ready to be part of an historic world championships in January.

Janice Gower, who is attached to the Newton Hall Indoors Bowls Club, Staining is one of three women to have qualified for the 2017 Just World Indoor Bowls Championships’ flagship event – the open singles.

Only two female players have achieved the feat previously with England international Gower, enjoying her ninth year representing her country, confident the ladies will be more than a match for the men at the Potters Resort in Norfolk in the new year.

She will be joined by Scotland’s Julie Forrest and New Zealand’s Debbie Wilford in the sport’s biggest event, Forrest the last woman to qualify three years ago.

“It’s without a doubt the pinnacle of my indoor bowls career,” she said.

“When people mention it, and remind me of what I have achieved, I have to smile and pinch myself.

“The dedication has paid off for all the years of travel and work.

“We can play the men and beat the men. Myself, Julie and Debbie have proved that.

“It’s nothing to do with strength. It’s all to do with skill, tactics and ability.”

To qualify, Gower had to beat those ranked 19, 20 and 21 in the world during a gruelling 13-hour day at a qualifier in Lincoln.

She was aided by featuring in Grand Prix events over the summer which featured the world’s top men.

“I suppose that goes back to me playing crown green locally in mixed leagues,” she said.

“I very rarely played a woman in those days and winning something like this which is open has been my ambition since starting to play indoor bowls and joining the PBA (Professional Bowls Association).”

Her first round match at the BBC-televised event is scheduled for Sunday, January 22, against Norfolk ace Mervyn King, a former world champion at the venue.

King has the edge in three meetings but Gower is relishing the chance to shine on the big stage.

“I will be giving it 110 per cent,” she said. I will do my best and hopefully my best will be good enough on the day.

“It’s simply the best place to play bowls. I think anybody would say that that’s played there.

“If you enjoy bowling and love entertaining – which is something I like to think I do – it is a really special place.

“There is nowhere that compares to the atmosphere of the portable rink at Potters.

“The crowds are fantastic – so supportive.”

The physical side of the sport may not be obvious to most but it is something Gower has placed a great emphasis on and believes is key to her success having worked with coach Colin Bell and personal trainer Lee Jones.

Other support comes from parents, Maureen and Ted France, who are both keen followers of their daughter’s career.

“My physical and mental fitness are the strongest they have ever been and I have to thank my team for that,” said Gower, who was recently appointed deputy competiton manager for the Special Olympics indoor bowls in Sheffield next August.

“I can’t tell you what a huge amount I believe it’s helped me achieve what I have.”

The Just World Indoor Bowls Championships is staged over 17 days from Friday, January 13, to Sunday, January 29.