By James Reid in Leamington Spa
Craig Bowler admitted he struggled on his Commonwealth Games debut before bouncing back with a win on the first day of para lawn bowls in Birmingham.
Bowler and partner Kieran Rollings were soundly beaten by Scottish duo Garry Brown and Kevin Wallace 23-12 in the B6-B8 men’s pairs before bouncing back to defeat New Zealand 19-11 in their second match of the day.
And the Olney native believes they can take confidence from their victory after a difficult start to life in Leamington Spa.
“It’s definitely a confidence boost,” said Bowler.
“No one likes to lose, it’s always a struggle when you do lose a game and you’ve got to try and pick yourself up.
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“To have this behind us now, it’s confidence and fingers crossed tomorrow we can carry on playing the way that we did today in the afternoon.”
Bowler and Rollings struggled to get going in the morning session with Brown and Wallace controlling the game throughout.
But the pair grabbed a much-needed win in the afternoon to keep them in with a chance of qualifying for the knockout stages.
The duo raced into an 11-1 lead but were slowly pegged back by their Kiwi opponents, before eventually pulling clear to seal victory.
“You can never relax when you’re 11-1 up but they started finding the greens a bit better and getting the weight and getting a couple of shots in,” added Bowler.
“They started getting ones and twos and then got a bit closer, but Kieran did an amazing shot and that put us right up there and that gave me the confidence – after that it started going well for us.”
It is a first-ever Games for Bowler, who picked up the sport after becoming a triple amputee, and he is fully embracing the occasion, including spraying an England flag on his head and shouts of his trademark ‘boom!’.
“I just thought – loud and proud – I always have been,” said Bowler. “My legs normally stand out more than anything else, so I thought I’d make the most of it and wear it with pride.
“It’s a great honour to put the shirt on, it’s an amazing feeling. The atmosphere is good and it’s a pleasure to be selected.”
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