Commonwealth lawn bowls champion Louis Ridout still hasn’t watched back his golden moment on the greens, writes Sportsbeat's James Reid.
But after a seismic summer at the sport’s storied Leamington Spa home, the Taunton native hopes his impact can continue to propel participation and accessibility to new heights.
Ridout, who plays for Kings Bowling Club in Torquay, clinched men’s triples gold in the most dramatic fashion alongside Jamie Chestney and Nick Brett at the spiritual home of the sport last year, withstanding an audacious Australian comeback to seal victory in the final end.
Millions of Brits tuned in to watch the classic England versus Australia battle – but 33-year-old Ridout revealed he is not one of them.
“It was all a bit of a blur that five minutes,” admitted Ridout. “I’ve not actually watched it back.
“I hope it came across, the atmosphere generated by 2,500 people there. The noise they created is something I will never go through in bowls again.
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“Both sets of supporters were clapping for Aussie and our bowls, that’s the beauty of bowls. It’s a competitive game but there is a friendly atmosphere and I just hope that came across on TV, it was magical.
“When we were actually playing the game, it didn’t come to light how many people were actually watching but afterwards once you’ve gone back to normality, hearing how many people watched it who have never watched bowls before.
“It can only be good for our sport, more coverage will hopefully increase participation.”
Ridout will be one of thousands of bowlers taking to the greens for Bowls’ Big Weekend, taking place from 26-29 May, which will see clubs across the country open their doors to new bowlers looking to give the sport a go.
Clubs are open to all abilities, from novices to Commonwealth champions, and Ridout admits his achievements still haven’t hit home as he returns to regular local matches.
“It still feels slightly strange, it’s the pinnacle of our sport,” he added. “It’s still surreal, it still doesn’t feel real at times. There are still people coming up to us and congratulating us.
“I played a league match last weekend and two of the chaps were telling me they watched it and how much they enjoyed it, it was a great feeling.
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“It’s such an inclusive sport, anyone can play it; any age, gender, experience, go and give it a go.
“A lot of people watched the Commonwealth Games and saw the atmosphere. I speak to people now and they say they’ll give it a go when they retire – I say why when you retire?
“I show them some clips and they are surprised by how young some bowlers are. It’s a lot more enjoyable and louder than people think it is.
“The social element is absolutely brilliant. You go down to most clubs on an evening and people are bowling, having a drink.
“You don’t have to be fit to play it, follow any fitness regimes, bowls is so inclusive – anyone can give it a go. It’s an escape – a couple of hours not thinking about too much and just having a laugh.
“Next week is the perfect opportunity to give it a go, find your local club and give it a go. All you need is your flat footwear, they’ll provide everything and hopefully you get hooked.”
To find your nearest participating club and sign up for a free session go to bowlsbigweekend.com