Vics to fore at 2017 Bowls Australia Awards

by Team BV

The two best bowlers in Australia for 2016-17, the best club, and the best official, are all from Victoria.
Throw in a Victorian-raised bowler taking out the International Bowler of the Year award, plus a Victorian stalwart being elevated to the Bowls Australia Hall of Fame, and it was a huge haul for Victorians at the 2017 Bowls Australia Awards Night on the Gold Coast.
Barrie Lester (Mulgrave Country Club) and Carla Krizanic (Sunbury) picked up $3,000 cheques for winning the Male and Female Bowler of the Year awards after topping the Bowls Australia rankings for the 2016-17 season.
Torquay Bowls Club was named Australia’s Club of the Year, while Laureen Smith (Yarrawonga-Mulwala) was named Bowls Australia’s Official of the Year.
Bendigo’s Aaron Wilson, now playing for Cabramatta in NSW, was International Bowler of the Year in a season he claimed a world championship.
And administrator, coach, and former Victorian player Arnold O’Brien has been inducted into Bowls Australia’s Hall of Fame.
A full list of winners from the night is below:
Australian Sports Commission International Bowler of the Year – Aaron Wilson (Cabramatta, NSW)
As the new kid on the block for the Australian Jackaroos, Aaron Wilson could not have dreamt of having a bigger impact on the world stage then he did during his international debut.

Wilson, from Bendigo in Victoria, was handed the reins as skip of the men’s pairs on debut at the sport’s pinnacle event, the World Bowls Championships, alongside fellow International Bowler of the Year finalist Brett Wilkie. 

The result was the nation’s first men’s pairs title victory in 36 years, having last claimed the honours in Melbourne in 1980.

A silver medal finish in the men’s fours provided another medal for the nation’s tally. 

Wilson continued his dominance on the international arena in his second capped event, the first on home on soil, securing the most amount of votes of any player at the Australia v England Series.

Wilson also polled very well, alongside Wilkie, at the Trans Tasman Test Series at Broadbeach, and finished the eligible events off with a silver medal at the 2017 Gold Coast Multi-Nations.

Now playing in NSW, Aaron has cemented himself as one of the strongest competitors in the Australian Jackaroos squad, and is sure to be a cornerstone of the team for many years to come.

Cruiseabout Male Bowler of the Year – Barrie Lester (Mulgrave Country Club, VIC)
Barrie cemented his spot as the sport’s top tanking male bowler at the conclusion of the 2016/17 rankings period to claim the title of Australia’s number one male bowler.

Barrie’s stellar year included success at local, state, national and international level, although the latter didn’t play a role in this particular achievement.

Ranking highly among Barrie’s notable accomplishments this year was the rare Victorian double he claimed; as the Victorian State Singles Champion and Victorian Champion of Champion title winner.

He sealed the illustrious Male Bowler of the Year title with a maiden Australian Open crown, following years of heartbreak as a runner-up, alongside this year’s Bowler with a Disability of the Year finalist Josh Thornton, in the men’s pairs.

Barrie’s second greatest amount of rankings points came courtesy of his Yallourn Open Singles victory.

In addition to his trophy and title as the nation’s top male bowler, Barrie will also take home a cheque to the value of $3,000, courtesy of Bowls Australia’s partner Cruiseabout.

Cruiseabout Female Bowler of the Year – Carla Krizanic (Sunbury, VIC)
Carla has etched her name into the history books as the country’s first number one female bowler of the year from the state of Victoria.

Carla upstaged two-time defending champion Natasha Scott for tonight’s accolade, after the two united for the pairs and fours at the 2017 Australian Open, which caps off the ratings period, meaning only the singles discipline could separate the two.

Fortunately for Carla, a sizeable rankings surplus leading into that particular event meant she could afford to

A stunning year for Carla also saw her claim the 2016 Australian Champion of Champions title, which will afford her entry into the soon-to-be-staged world event, the 2017 Golden Nugget singles title and a State mixed pairs championship.

Carla also garnered a significant amount of points from her victories at the Warrnambool Pairs, Moama Pairs and St Johns Park Triples events. 

Carla will also collect a $3,000 prize cheque tonight for topping the rankings, courtesy of Bowls Australia’s valued partner Cruiseabout.
Official of the Year – Laureen Smith (Yarrawonga Mulwala, VIC)
Laureen is a finalist in tonight’s Official of the Year award category as a result of stellar contribution in the role of an International Technical Official and as a Presenter and Assessor.

Identified as one the leading International Technical Officials within the country, and arguably the world, Laureen has assisted with officiating at many of the sport’s marquee and benchmark international and national events.

Notably, Laureen officiated with distinction at the 2016 World Bowls Championships in New Zealand, the 2017 Gold Coast Multi-Nations event, and the 2017 Australian Open; where she was handpicked to mark the coveted women’s singles final, which was broadcast live on Fox Sports.

Laureen is a Presenter and Assessor for the Ovens and Murray Region of Victoria, which includes 31 clubs. In this role, she has displayed excellent presentation skills, effective planning and preparation, and delivers the courses with clear and detailed instructions.

Laureen is also a top-quality bowler herself – both a State champion in 2015-16 and in 2016-17 a Victorian Open champion.
Club of the Year – Torquay Bowls Club (VIC)
Years of innovation in response to social changes within Torquay and the club’s wider environment have completely reshaped the Torquay Bowls Club.

From a club in decline, separated from its local community by tradition and its status as an enclave for the aged, the club has now reinvented itself by looking hard at its decaying situation and acting in contrast to the increasing number of clubs subsiding into oblivion.

Torquay purchased two Jr. Jack Attack kits in 2015 to use with the two local schools in the region, but in June 2017 the club decided to undertake a new, progressive approach, by taking the program to the schools in which over 100 children participated over eight weeks with a framework deigned to empower and equip both the students and teachers.

From a declining membership of 170, Torquay Bowls club presently has a combined membership of 843 people compromising 401 affiliated bowlers, and the balance in social members, with the growth primarily attributed to the club’s willingness to adapt and change, through influential leadership, strategic planning, governance reform and incorporating a new entry level competition, Twilight Bowls, which brings in some 240 people each week across two weeknight events.

Through these measures, the club has prospered, with more than 30,000 visitors utilising the club annually, and more than 5,000 barefoot bowlers introduced each year.

Hall of Fame induction – Arnold O’Brien OAM (VIC)
Victorian bowls administrator and former State player Arnold O’Brien OAM is a deserving recipient of tonight’s induction.

O’Brien is this year’s first non-athlete inductee, and just the 11th of all time, from a total of 46 past and present members whose achievements date back to the 1930s.

While boasting achievements both on and off the green, O’Brien earns inclusion for his tireless work and contribution to the sport in a non-playing capacity.

His involvement in the sport spans more than 65 years, and includes accolades achieved playing, coaching, umpiring, marking and administering across club, group, region, state, national and international levels.

At an international level, O’Brien served on Bowls Australia’s selection committee in 2002, before taking the reins as Chairman for a term of three years from 2003.

He was also a marker and umpire at the sport’s premier event, in the 1980 World Bowls Championships. 

From a state perspective, O’Brien had a distinguished tenure with the Royal Victorian Bowls Association (now Bowls Victoria), serving as a Councillor for 21 years in total, which included the roles of Vice President from 1994 to 1998, Deputy President from 1998 to 2000, and at the helm as President for a further three-year period from 2000 to 2003.

A proud Victorian, having represented the Big V in over 200 occasions, O’Brien has also served on the state’s selection committee for 26 years, 12 of which as Chairman, and the coaching committee for 21 years, 13 as Chairman.

He was recognised with an Australian Sports Medal in 2000, and was presented with the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his services to the sport in 2004.

He was also made a life member of Bowls Victoria in 2006.

O’Brien will be included in the “2000-present – General” category of Hall of Fame membership.

Hall of Fame Legend elevation – Kelvin Kerkow OAM (South Tweed, NSW)
Kelvin Kerkow is without question one of the most famous, and indeed infamous, names in the sport of bowls, in any corner of the globe.

Kerkow enjoyed a scintillating career for the Australian Jackaroos that spanned from 1995 to 2008, where he amassed more than 300 international caps and became one of the sport’s most distinguished and recognisable figures.

He created arguably the most iconic moment in bowls history when he claimed the coveted Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games men’s singles gold medal, after which, he ripped off his shirt and was chaired from the Darebin International Sports Centre arena by his teammates, draped in the Australian flag.

At a state level, he represented the Queensland Maroons on more than 350 occasions, and was inducted into the Bowls Queensland Hall of Fame in 2008. 

He was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his services to the sport of bowls in 2010.

Kerkow’s story is made even more remarkable given he has endured and overcome a debilitating illness, known as Guillian Barre Syndrome, which paralysed him as a child and left him requiring the aid of a walking stick to play bowls for the remainder of his life, to become one of the world’s most successful players.

Kerkow boasts a rich history with South Tweed Sports, and is still involved in shaping the sport’s High Performance program as a current Australian Selector.

Hall of Fame Legend elevation – Rex Johnston OAM (Tuncurry Beach, NSW)
Rex Johnston has achieved feats across all levels of the sport, as a player and a coach, that many could only dream of.

Johnston is one of the nation’s most decorated bowlers and enjoyed an illustrious international playing career from 1988 to 2004, where he pulled on the green and gold uniform on more than 300 occasions.

Johnston is the only Australian bowler to have represented his country at four consecutive Commonwealth Games, from 1990 to 2002, and secured a coveted gold medal as skip of the men’s pairs at the 1994 Victoria, British Columbia Games.

He coached Malta at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, became an Australian Selector from 2006 until his appointment as the Australian National Coach in 2009, until 2011.

On the state stage, Johnston accumulated 320 appearances for the NSW Blues, was awarded the male Bowler of the Year accolade on three occasions (1990, 1991 and 1997) and was bestowed Hall of Fame membership by Bowls NSW in 2009.

Johnston was presented with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his contribution to bowls and charitable work in 2006.

He is a member of Tuncurry Beach Bowling Club.

Hall of Fame induction – Wayne Turley OAM (Tweed Heads, QLD)
Commonwealth Games gold medallist Wayne Turley is a stalwart of Australian bowls across all levels.

The former Australian Jackaroos Vice-Captain enjoyed a sublime international career, which spanned 132 tests from 2005 to 2011.

In just his second capped event, Turley secured his most coveted international achievement, claiming a coveted gold medal at the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games in the men’s triples discipline, alongside Bill Cornehls and Mark Casey.

Other international highlights included dual gold medals from the 2007 Asia Pacific Championships, a silver medal at the 2008 World Bowls Championships, a silver medal at the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games, and a further Asia Pacific Championships gold medal in 2009.

On the state stage, Turley has notched up 279 test caps for the NSW Blues, having made his state debut in 1999, and is the fourth most prolific NSW men’s representative in the sport’s history.

He has twice been voted NSW bowler of the year, in 2006 and 2013, and has been part of six Alley Shield victories with the Blues at the Australian Sides Championships during his tenure.

Turley, who began his love-affair with the sport as a 15 year-old, has been the Bowls Coordinator at Taren Point for 18 years, and has only recently taken the reins at Tweed Heads Bowls Club in the same position.

He has also contributed to the governance of the sport through his role on the Bowls Australia Board, which he has held since 2013.

Earlier this year, Turley was awarded a Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia in the General Division, for service to lawn bowls, as part of the Australian Day 2017 honours list.

Turley will be inducted into the “2000-present – Athlete” category.

Hall of Fame induction – Greeta Fahey (Club Helensvale, QLD)
Former Australian representative Greeta Fahey achieved an astonishing amount of success in such a short span of time.

Debuting in 1986, Fahey became Australia’s 29th capped female representative, and while her international career only spanned four events across as many years, her name will forever be etched into the sport’s annals.

At 56 years of age, Fahey was handed the blue-ribbon singles role in her maiden international appearance, at the Edinburgh 1986 Commonwealth Games no less, but it wasn’t until the following year when she really established herself on the sport’s biggest stage.

The 1987 Bicentennial International at Tweed Heads saw Fahey rewarded with a gold medal in the triples and silver medal in the fours, but just as importantly, a spot in the coveted World Bowls Championships team, to be contested in New Zealand the following year.

Fahey took the opportunity with both hands, claiming dual gold medals at the sport’s premier event, which is held every four years, as skip of the women’s triples and third in the women’s fours.

It was the nation’s eighth and ninth World Bowls Championships gold medal since 1966, and just the second occasion where an Australian had won two gold medals from the same championships.

She finished her brief but illustrious career for the Australian Jackaroos with a bang the following year, securing a gold medal in the triples and silver medal in the fours at the 1989 Pacific Games in Fiji.

Despite only four short years of green-and-gold representation, from 1986 to 1989, Fahey also enjoyed a decorated career for both Victoria and Queensland, including ten years for the Maroon from 1981 to 1991.

Her résumé also boasts four Queensland state titles, and in excess of 40 club championships.

She was recognised with an Australian Sports Medal in 2000, and was also honoured with induction into Bowls Queensland’s Hall of Fame in 2005.

Fahey, who first took up the sport in 1959 as a 19 year-old, continues to play club-level bowls and has been described as an inspiration and icon to her fellow Club Helensvale members.

Fahey will be included in the “1975-1999 – Athlete” category of inductees.

Hall of Fame induction – Leif Selby (Warilla, NSW)
Former world number one Leif Selby is without doubt one of the modern era’s most prolific players, and lays claim to being the only player to ever win the sport’s three world singles crowns, which include the World Bowls Championships singles, World Cup and World Champion of Champion titles.

Debuting in 2007, Selby was Australia’s 125th capped male representative, and enjoyed a distinguished career until 2012, when he finished at the peak of his powers.

Within three years of his maiden cap, Selby had notched up three world singles titles, including the World Champion of Champion trophy in 2008, and back-to-back World Cup crowns in 2009 and 2010, but decided to bow out of international duties following a silver medal in the blue-ribbon singles at the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Despite retiring from international competition after the Commonwealth Games, Selby made a stunning come-back after encouragement from the High Performance team and the playing contingent.

He was handed the plum singles role, in which he had enjoyed so much success, at the 2012 World Bowls Championships in Adelaide.

Selby repaid the faith in full, securing one of five gold medals for the Australian contingent in what became the nation’s most successful world championships campaign, and solidified himself as the only person to win all three world singles accolades.

Immediately after his victory, Selby again relinquished his position within the Australian Jackaroos squad and concluded his international career at the height of his power.

On the national stage, Selby has also enjoyed considerable success, particularly in the singles discipline.

He became the first person to secure the nation’s indoor-outdoor double in the same year, winning the Australian Open singles and Australian Indoor Championships both in 2008, and set another record three years later, when he became the Australian Open’s first dual singles winner.

Selby has also been a prominent figure on the NSW state stage, and was Bowls NSW’s Player of the Year in 2008 and 2009, and received inclusion in their Hall of Fame in 2015.

Selby has enjoyed a rich playing history at Warilla Bowls and Recreation Club, where he has also worked as a junior bowls development officer, in which he guides and mentors the sport’s rising stars.

Selby will be recognised in the “2000-present – Athlete” category of Hall of Fame membership.

Hall of Fame induction – Mark Casey (Club Helensvale, QLD)
Such is the calibre of Mark Casey’s credentials, the Club Helensvale star is awarded Hall of Fame induction tonight despite only retiring from the international arena just 10 months ago. 

Casey enjoyed an illustrious career in the green and gold colours from his international debut in 2003 until his retirement in December last year, following the conclusion of the 2016 World Bowls Championships.

During his 13 years representing Australia, Casey amassed 292 international caps, as well as a swag of titles, accomplishments and golden medallions which are rivalled by very few.

The classy southpaw can lay claim to being the only male player in Australia’s history to have won both a Commonwealth Games and World Bowls Championships gold medal.

His first world title came as a 23 year-old, when he secured the inaugural World Cup singles title in Hong Kong in 2005, and one of his finest moments came the following year, when he secured a gold medal at the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games in the men’s triples, alongside Bill Cornehls and fellow Hall of Fame inductee Wayne Turley.

He continued to ply his trade on the international stage at everything from Asia Pacific Championships to Trans Tasman events over the ensuing years, until he etched his name in the history books with a gold and silver medal at the 2012 World Bowls Championships in Adelaide, as part of the nation’s most successful campaign.

He wasn’t able to replicate the golden feat at the next staging of the event, in Christchurch last year, where he finished with two silver medals, but still bowed out of international representation at the peak of his powers.

On the national stage, an outdoor-indoor singles double in 2012 rates among Casey’s many achievements, having claimed the Australian Open’s men’s singles crown followed a few short months later by the Australian Indoor Championships men’s singles gong.

He also helped steer the Brisbane Gold to the inaugural Bowls Premier League (then called Australian Premier League) title in 2013.

Casey was also a prolific Queensland state representative, and helped the Maroons to seven Alley Shields at the sport’s state-versus-state competition, the Australian Sides Championships, over the years.

Casey will be included in the “2000-present – Athlete” category of Hall of Fame membership.

BCiB Insurance Brokers Under-18 Male Bowler of the Year – Jono Davis (Club Mount Lewis, NSW)
Jono is one of the most decorated junior bowlers in the history of the sport; having already won this award the past two years.

Another stellar 12 months on the green has seen Jono secure the sport’s junior double, in the Australian Open’s under-18 singles and Australian Under-18 Championships’ singles titles, for a consecutive year.

Demonstrating his sheer dominance at junior events, Jono has now won both singles titles in 2016 and 2017.

At the 2016 Australian Under-18 Championships, in addition to the blue-ribbon boys’ singles gold medal, Jono also won the boys’ pairs golden medallion, both of which aided the NSW Blues with winning the event’s Overall Champion State Trophy.

Jono also claimed the 2016 NSW Champion of Champions titles, which afforded him entry into the recently staged Australian Champion of Champions event, where he finished with a silver medal with just shots separating him from gold.

During the 2016/17 National Player Ranking period, Jono finished eleventh in Australia and third in NSW, and he was also part of the victorious Australian Development side at the Trans Tasman Test Series.

Tourism and Events Queensland Under-18 Female Bowler of the Year – Jessica Srisamruaybai (Tweed Heads, QLD)
Jessica is without question a star on the rise, and definitely one to watch in the coming years as she transitions into the sport’s open levels.

During this period, Jessica has established herself as one of the sport’s preeminent under-18 competitors; not content with a runner-up finish at the Australian Open’s under-18 girls’ singles event in 2016, Jessica went one step further this year and secured the prestigious title; she also made the last 64 in the open singles and final 16 in the pairs.

At the sport’s other national junior event, Jessica skipped the Queensland girls’ fours team to silver medal and a fourth place finish in the triples at the 2016 Australian Under-18 Championships.

Jessica also donned the Maroon uniform for the Queensland women’s team at the sport’s premier state versus state event, the Australian Sides Championships, where she helped secure the women’s Marj Morris Trophy as a lead.

Jessica was part of the successful Australian Development team at the 2017 Trans Tasman Test Series at Broadbeach, where Australia secured a series victory.

Bowler with a Disability of the Year – Lynne Seymour (Thuringowa, QLD)
Lynne is one of the most credentialed members of the Australian Blind Bowlers Association and has enjoyed a scintillating time on the greens during the eligibility period.

On the national stage, Lynne claimed the Australian Open’s Vision Impaired women’s singles gold medal and the VI women’s pairs silver medal, while at the Australian Vision Impaired Championships, she secured two gold and one silver, winning the open pairs and mixed pairs and finishing runner-up in the women’s singles.

On the world arena, Lynne could not have had a bigger impact, having covered herself in glory at the World Vision Impaired Championships in South Africa, where she was triumphant in the women’s singles B4 discipline and the mixed pairs B4 category; with the two gold medals symbolic of her preparation, determination and ability.

Lynne is assisted ably at events by her husband Bob as her coach and director.

City of Gold Coast Coach of the Year- Les Carter (Bowls SA)
As the men’s state coach for South Australia, Les has played a crucial role in the development, progression and ultimate success that the state has enjoyed in recent times.

Les has taken the reigns of the Adelaide Endurance in two Bowls Premier League competitions, BPL04 and BPL05, during the eligibility period, and helped mastermind the state’s Alley Shield victory at the 2017 Australian Sides Championships, which broke a 29-year drought.

Renowned for being highly organised for trainings, Les coordinates efficiently with the players, leadership group and selection panel for preparation, and brings new ideas to improve effectiveness, including implemented a new scoring system system at state training.

Les contributes to players’ and the squad’s overall improvement through not only a focus on technique and skill, but also on shot selection and developing the culture of the entire squad, setting clear expectations and developing behaviors for all squad members.

Les has always focused on the squad and team as an overall rather than individual achievements, and doesn’t take credit for individual successes although he acknowledges how his implementation of behaviours and cultures may have had an effect on the players involved.

Volunteer of the Year – John Luchetti (Yamba, NSW)
John is a qualified coach who unselfishly volunteers a countless amount of his time to bring new bowlers to a level of confidence and ability where they can successfully enter the sport in a competitive manner.

He has excelled by patiently developing several bowlers with special needs to the stage where they now possess the necessary confidence and skill levels to regularly participate in social bowls and certain club championships.

John is heavily committed to the promotion of the sport of bowls within the community, and regularly volunteers his time in club activities and initiatives including; school coaching programs, community, family and business competitions and club open and social day visits.

A willing worker around the club, John assists with the running of the club championships, tournaments and official bowls programs and also assists in the maintenance and preparation of the greens.

John was a finalist for Bowls NSW’s 2017 Volunteer of the Year award.

Regional Bowls Manager of the Year – Andrew Howie (South East Queensland)
Andrew has been a considerable asset for the clubs within his region of South East Queensland, and is one of three Senior RBMS within the 18-strong team.

Andrew has achieved consistently high results across all areas of his Key Performance Indicators, and has been particularly strong in assisting clubs with implementing national programs, including Jack Attack and BPL Cup competitions; 20 clubs are now onboard with Jack Attack and six venues joined the inaugural BPL Club competition.

He assisted clubs with procuring $990,000 in grants, and is a frequent contributor of good news stories to Bowls Australia and the Queensland Bowler magazine.