Games-From mutineers to Premiers, lawn bowls Davids take on Games Goliaths

·3-min read

By Steve Keating

ROYAL LEAMINGTON SPA, England (Reuters) - In sport nearly everyone loves a good David and Goliath story and the place to be for such a battle at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games is the lawn bowls competition.

At one end of Victoria Park's impeccably manicured bowling greens, rated among the best in Britain, the Falkland Islands, whose 3,000 inhabitants could fit into one of the venue's temporary stands, beat India, with a population of 1.3 billion.

At the other end, Norfolk Island, once a British penal colony and home to descendants of HMS Bounty mutineers, tried to reach the medal podium as they did at the Gold Coast 2018 Games when they beat Canada to win the men's triples bronze.

Carmen Anderson also won bronze for Norfolk Island at the 1994 Commonwealth Games.

"We're just proud to represent Norfolk Island, a small place," Tim Sheridan, a sixth generation direct descendent of Fletcher Christian, who infamously led the Bounty mutiny, told Reuters. "It's always pleasurable when we do come up against them (big nations) and happen to get a win.

"We take great pride in that, achieving good results against the bigger nations."

Of the 19 sports being contested at this multi-sport event none better embodies the spirit of the Commonwealth Games motto of 'The Friendly Games' nor connects the quadrennial showcase to a more glorious and relevant past than lawn bowls.

It has been played at every Commonwealth Games, with the exception of Kingston, Jamaica in 1966 when no facilities were available.

COMPETTIIVE QUAINTNESS

The Games are considered lawn bowls' most prestigious competition yet it has managed to retain a competitive quaintness.

There is no other sport being played in Birmingham where the smallest nations can reasonably challenge some of the world's most populous and prosperous countries and reckon they have a shot at winning.

It is played by men and women, young and old, the famous and the notorious.

While the Norfolk Island team is partly made up of the descendents of mutineers, Niue, a small coral island in the South Pacific with just 1,600 residents, has the country's Premier Dalton Tagelagi and his 14-year-old son Tukala.

"We're part-timers playing against professionals and I think we did well," Premier Tagelagi told Reuters after a 23-10 loss to Scotland by the father and son in the men's pairs.

"We kept them honest anyway. Nothing is impossible.

"We've had upsets before but we just enjoy it and give the big boys a run for their money when we can."

At 14, Tagelagi's son is the youngest athlete competing in Birmingham and, despite his age, is destined to assume the mantle of team leader.

Asked how he got into the sport Tukala had a simple answer

"My dad made me do bowls," he said cracking a smile.

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Royal Lemaington Spa; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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