Greg Smith made history with an outstanding performance to win the 2015 Co-operative funeralcare Waterloo crown green bowling tournament at Blackpool.
By beating fellow Midlander Ross Dunkley 21-19 in the final, the 22-year-old becomes the joint-youngest winner of an event that is over a century old.
Left-hander Smith, from Alvechurch, who took up the sport at the age of five, said: “I am totally ecstatic to do it in front of such a huge crowd and on live TV,
“It was a really tense final. I am in the Champion Of Champions now (on Saturday week) and that is the next on my list.”
The feelgood factor certainly returned to the Waterloo this year, with the biggest finals day crowd for some time and two days of wall-to-wall coverage on ITV4.
Waterloo bowls manager Mark Audin hopes the return of the cameras will not be a one-off. He said: “It has been fantastic. I could not have asked for it to go any better.
“The crowds have come out – the best in years and years. Everybody has supported it all the way along.
“We are hoping to get some feedback from ITV in the next few days. We hope the sponsors have bitten the cherry and will back the coverage for years to come.
“The crowd made it a sport that people really like to see. It has shown that the sport is not dour but exciting.”
Quarter-finals: Ross Dunkley (Birmingham) 21, Jamie Bradley (Stockport) 11; Ian Nicholson (Kendal) 21, Simon Coupe (Preston) 16; Greg Smith (Birmingham) 21, Ant Bracken (Birmingham 18; Lee Fletcher (Lloydss) 21, Roy Moxham (Barrow) 17
Semi-finals: Dunkley 21, Nicholson 16; Smith 21, Fletcher 14
Final: Smith 21, Dunkley 19.
Welsh bowler Linda Williams won the first ever Waterloo women’s final to be televised live. She defeated Liz Cox (Burton) 21-19 in the decider.
Preston bowler Simon Coupe may have missed out a hat-trick of Waterloo wins when he bowed out at the quarter-final stage yesterday, though he did not leave Blackpool empty-handed.
Coupe won the traditional Waterloo curtain-raiser, the Marton Institute tournament, beating Winsford’s Glyn Cookson in the final.