ENGLAND bowls champion David Bolt hopes youngsters in Sunderland will be inspired to take up the sport by his recent win in the national championships.
The 32-year-old postman successfully delivered in the national finals held in Worthing last month when he followed in the footsteps of former giants of the sport David Bryant and Tony Alcock by becoming national outdoor champion.
The title is one of the most coveted in the game and Bolt brought it back to Sunderland for the first time since the great Ashbrooke bowler Chas Gibbs won it in 1913.
Bolt said: “It was fantastic to win the competition and it’s undoubtedly the highlight of my career.
“I felt in great shape though throughout the tournament and I always felt I had a chance in the final.
“To receive the trophy was great and it was also great to bring it back to the club, we had a good night to celebrate the fact it was in Silksworth.
“But I’d love to think that the city having success in the sport will encourage young people to maybe drop down to their local bowls club and give it a go.
“I know the sport has an image of one played predominantly by older folk and it’s true that bowls is very popular among the older generation but I started bowling when I was in my teens and I’m still only in my 30s now. The average age of the England team this season was late 20s, so it is clearly a sport which is starting to appeal to younger people.
“We’ve got some great bowlers in the area – like England international Gary Smith – and if my winning this title helps focus attention on the sport up here then nothing will give me greater satisfaction.
“I was 10 years old when I first took up the sport.
“I was into all sports at the time but I went up with my dad and I loved it from the very start. That was enough for me.
“But I think any youngster can take up the sport. If they’ve got mates who are the same age who are also involved, it helps.
“By the same token I’d like all bowls clubs in the area – and it’s surprising just how many there are when you look around – to do their very best to make any youngsters interested feel welcome.”
H Bolt’s hopes off finishing the season off by adding a Northern Counties title to his national title were dashed at Manchester last weekend.
In the singles, Bolt went down 21-11 to Yorkshire’s David Tooley.
The eventual winner was Lancashire’s Jason Parkinson, who received a bye into the final.
A couple of years ago, the format for the Northern Counties was changed to allow counties to send their county runners-up should the respective champions not be available.
In the pairs, Silksworth’s county runners-up Scot Baker and Paul Baker took the place of club-mates Keith Avery and David Bolt, who were unavailable.
Sadly for the Baker duo, they went down 26-13 to Northumberland’s Paul Ging in the preliminary round.
There was good news for the Durham representatives in the triples and fours, though, as Darlington RA’s Andrew Kirtland steered his county triples and fours champions to Northern Counties success.
In the triples final, Kirtland defeated Cumbria’s Ben Sherwin 14-2 and then in the fours final, Kirtland defeated Lancashire’s David Lockhart 21-13.
Despite Durham withdrawing from the tournament, the Northern Counties Under 21 mixed top nine event still went ahead with only three counties involved. The eventual winners were Yorkshire by a single point.
Final positions: Yorkshire 13, Cumbria 12, Northumberland 11.