SILKSWORTH’S David Bolt is celebrating becoming the new BowlsEngland singles champion – the first Sunderland-based bowler to take the title since the great Chas Gibbs in 1913.
The 32-year-old postman now joins the likes of David Bryant and Tony Allcock to have won one of the game’s most iconic trophies.
Every year, the national championships are held at Worthing, the Wembley of bowls. The two-week event attracts county champions and runners-up from across the country, but the 600-mile round trip has over the years been a fruitless trek for many a local bowler.
Having been disappointed to make a third-round exit in the pairs, Bolt was determined to make his mark in the singles and was fancied to have a good run.
The opening three rounds were plain sailing for the Silksworth star. An initial 21-7 win over Chesterton’s C. Chapman was followed by a 21-8 win over Headingington’s C. Whitehead before Felixstowe’s R. Vest was shot down 21-7, setting up a quarter-final against 62-year-old surprise packet Dougie Spittles (Shirley Park).
At 18-9 up, Bolt looked set for another comfortable win, but Spittles rallied strongly and got it back to 19-17, before looking to have the momentum to spring a stunning success. However, Bolt gathered his composure to secure a 21-18 win.
The early signs were not good in the semi-final as as Exonia’s Robert Paxton raced into 5-0 lead before Bolt stepped up a gear and turned it round for a 13-7 advantage.
At 18-11, the writing was on the wall for Paxton, and a determined and confident Bolt sealed a 21-13 win.
In the final, Rugby’s Graham Ashby provided the opposition and again Bolt was slow off the mark, trailing 7-1, but, just like in the semi-final, the Silksworth man fought back and, within the space of two ends, levelled it at 7-7.
The tide appeared to favour Bolt as he stormed 13-7 ahead only to be pegged back to 13-13, with both players producing quality bowls.
Ashby edged 14-13 ahead before a match-turning treble sent Bolt 16-14 in front and turned the momentum in his favour. At 18-15, with a match lie, Ashby missed with his last bowl, much to the delight of Bolt, who clinched a tremendous 21-15 win.
Bolt’s first national title achivement caps off a great return to outdoor bowls following his England debut earlier in the season.