Young gun Salmon hoping to change perceptions of bowls

·3-min read
Team Wales are tasked with topping Gold Coast 2018, their best ever Games
Team Wales are tasked with topping Gold Coast 2018, their best ever Games

You'd be hard pressed to find a more discreet defending champion at the Commonwealth Games than Daniel Salmon.

The Cardiff-born lawn bowler isn’t one to brag and barely lifts his voice above a lilting whisper when breaking down his ambitions in Birmingham.

A self-employed painter-decorator, Salmon won’t mention his moonlit passion when he goes into the homes of clients, occasionally embarrassed by colleagues who spill the beans.

At 28 Salmon will be among the youngest on the greens of Leamington Spa, displaying a unique brand of youthful abandon.

“When you’re older, you tend to be a bit more wary of different things and what could go wrong,” he said.

“Being a bit newer to the stage you’re more fearless. I don’t worry too much about what could go wrong - I just always try to look at the positive of what can go right.

“The perception of bowls is that it’s older people playing but a lot of younger people do play it. It’s just about trying to change people’s opinion.”

In 2010 Salmon became the youngest bowler to represent Wales at an indoor competition.

His big break came at the 2017 World Indoor Championships when he won silver alongside Damian Doubler, beating England’s Nick Brett and Greg Harlow in the process.

It all came together for Salmon on Commonwealth Games debut at Gold Coast 2018 where he won Team Wales’ fifth gold medal in lawn bowls in the men’s pairs.

Marc Wyatt was his partner for that competition and four years on, he will defend his title as ‘lead’ to ‘skip’ Jarrad Breen.

“The standout memory of 2018 is relief, just after the game, with it being so tight,” said Salmon, remembering a knife-edge 12-10 win over Scotland.

“Just going to a Commonwealth Games was something I always wanted to do - I can’t really put into words how much it meant really.

“The partnership with Jarrad is quite similar really. Maybe he thinks about the game more than Marc did and is more tactical, whereas Marc was more instinctive.”

This summer, Team Wales, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, will comprise of over 200 athletes, and having secured his place on the squad, Salmon is looking for medal success.

And with the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games set to inspire people and communities across the country this summer, Salmon hopes sharing his story will give others motivation to get involved in sport and turn their dreams into reality.

Salmon is also carrying the hopes of the nation in the singles competition, in which he fell at the first hurdle in 2018.

No bowler has ever done the singles-triples double in the history of the Commonwealth Games.

“I’d like two golds, but that’s a bit greedy and a big ask,” he said.

“Preparations have gone pretty well so far. I’ve been quite solid in the singles, I’ve won a few and if I have lost, it’s been close, so I feel ready for it.

“There are good countries, England will be strong and Scotland are always very strong. I wouldn’t be scared of anyone.”

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