Craig Bowler claims heroic Commonwealth bowls bronze

·3 min read
Craig Bowler claims heroic Commonwealth bowls bronze

Fifteen years ago, Craig Bowler could never have imagined he would be a Commonwealth bronze medallist.

Bowler, 43, tried to end his own life but instead suffered injuries that left him as a triple amputee, meaning he now only has use of his left arm.

But it is with that left arm that Bowler plays bowls, the sport that turned his life around and has now earned him a bronze medal in the men’s para pairs with Kieran Rollings.

Bowler and Rollings cut disconsolate figures after their semi-final defeat to England on Monday, but there was no way they were leaving Leamington Spa without a medal.

For Bowler, it is the fitting culmination of a lengthy process of hardship and healing.

“I've been on a long journey,” said Bowler. “I've turned my life around and bowls was a saviour.

“It helped me a hell of a lot. I made a lot of friends and if I didn't play bowls, I wouldn't be standing with this man winning a bronze medal.

“That felt like a gold medal to me. I'm absolutely overwhelmed and really pleased.”

This summer, Team England, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, comprises of over 400 athletes, all vying for medal success.

The duo were utterly dominant in their bronze medal match, quickly establishing a seven-shot lead within five ends that they never relinquished.

And Rollings, who lost at the same stage in 2018, was thrilled with how the pair performed after a disappointing semi-final.

“We played really well as a pair,” said Rollings. “There was nothing stopping us from showing fight out there today.

“I've been in that position before and it's tough to keep positive especially if you start to lose bowls.

“But we kept strong out there, we kept going and we kept the fight up. I'm really impressed with that performance.”

The pair now walk away as Commonwealth bronze medallists, and 22-year-old Rollings admitted it was a lot to come to terms with.

"It's a bit raw now but you just feel an immense pride to go out there for your country and get a medal,” added Rollings,.

“To bring it home on home soil makes it even better."

Bowler is a larger-than-life character on the green, with his catchphrase of ‘Boom!’ adorning his prosthetic legs and wheelchair, while the 43-year-old also sprayed a St George’s cross into his hair for the Games.

Rollings is the more reserved of the enigmatic duo and admits he won’t be asking for Bowler’s hairdresser’s number.

“When I first turned up, I said it was a bit daft for a grown man,” joked Rollings.

“But we've gone out there proud of our country. It's a bit of a step too far for me, but he can keep it up.

For Bowler, even competing at these Games was beyond his wildest dreams and the bronze medallist believes his victory was a case of meant to be.

“Everything happens for a reason and maybe that reason's for me to be standing here with you now,” said Bowler.

“Every negative into a positive and just keep fighting as we showed as a team today.”

There has never been a better time to discover bowls, truly a sport for everybody. It is all to play for – discover more at www.bowlsengland.com