By James Reid at Victoria Park, Leamington Spa
A pep talk to herself was the key to Laura Daniels’ comeback that saw her edge past Northern Ireland’s Shauna O’Neill 21-19 in the Commonwealth Games lawn bowls women’s singles and seal qualification to the knockout stages.
2018 silver medallist Daniels was 19-14 down at one stage to 21-year-old debutant O’Neill but kept her nerve to claw herself back into the game and clinch victory.
And the Neath bowler admitted that she had to find something extra to come out on top and secure a spot in Sunday evening’s quarterfinals.
“I had to tell myself halfway through the game ‘if you want it, you’ve got to work for it’,” said Daniels.
“I’m not here to have an easy ride. If you want to win, you’ve got to step up to it.
“I managed to hang on a bit when I was five behind. I feel like I squeezed a win, I really had to dig deep just to hang on in there.”
Daniels faces Scotland’s Dee Hoggan on Sunday with just the top spot in Section B at stake, as both players have already sealed qualification.
Having won silver in the same event four years ago at 2018 Gold Coast, Daniels knows she is one of the bowlers to beat but insists she isn’t feeling the heat.
“I try not to put too much pressure on myself,” added Daniels. “My aim is for gold, that’s what I’m here for.
“You want to go one better, and one better for me would be gold but I’m just trying to take it game by game.
“It’s such a tough competition and if you look too far ahead you get in trouble.”
Daniels was roared on by a healthy Welsh contingent in the crowd at Victoria Park, and the 37-year-old was full of praise for the facilities in Leamington Spa.
“It’s amazing I have to say,” she said. “To come in and see the stands, it’s impressive.
“Leamington is a lovely venue anyway but to see what they’ve done and how they’ve spruced it up.
“The greens are playing really well; you can see how much work they’ve put into them – it’s on par with anywhere I’ve been to.”
It took 24 ends to split Daniels and her youthful opponent O’Neill, who looked for a long time that she would land a big upset.
But despite ultimately coming out on top, Daniels believes there is a big future ahead of the Northern Ireland youngster.
“She’s got huge potential,” added Daniels.
“Shauna is one of the new kids on the block and it’s great to see them coming through. “There is no age restriction with bowls, but we need the young ones coming through because it’s the future of the game.”
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