Veteran of The Sport: Margaret Sumner

by Kalon Huett (BV Contributor)

As a Commonwealth Games medallist and Bowls Australia Hall of Fame member (1975-99 era, inducted in 2011), Margaret Sumner is a true champion of Victorian and Australian bowls with numerous other accolades to her name including an Order of Australia Medal (2009). In fact there’s very little Sumner hasn’t achieved throughout a lifetime in which lawn bowls has played a major role.

Born at Terang in 1941, the Terang Bowls Club Life Member has proudly represented her beloved club since 1979. That’s four decades of wonderful dedication and service to the club, not to mention a professional bowls career filled with some remarkable highlights. At the 1996 World Outdoor Bowls Championships in Adelaide, Sumner won a gold medal in the Fours and a silver medal in the Triples event. Just two years later, at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, she added a silver medal in the Women’s Fours to her impressive collection. She was also a Victorian Champion of Champions, among numerous other titles. 

Despite such amazing success, those who know her best say Sumner has always remained as humble as the day she first turned up at Terang Bowls Club. Pamela Bryant (Edithvale Bowling Club), herself a highly credentialed bowler, once described Sumner as, “an all round champion person with a big happy smile and a willingness to share her time and experience”.

Recently we spoke to Sumner about her love of the game and a truly outstanding career.

What are the biggest highlights from your bowls career?

I’m very proud to have represented both Victoria and Australia in bowls. It was terrific to play with the best ladies in the sport and I learnt a lot from them all. Being invited to state trials and winning my first state event, playing in three World Bowls, two Commonwealth Games and Test Matches against New Zealand were all great experiences.

Why do you love the sport of bowls?

I just love everything about the game so much, meeting interesting new people and playing against the best players. it is a great challenge.

Are you still playing bowls?

I have had a rough trot the last three years with hip and knee replacements, and now I have a heart valve problem, but I’m hoping to get back to social bowls and perhaps even Pennant quite soon.

Over the years you’ve held numerous administrative positions including Chairman, Director, Chair of Match Committee and Chair of Selection – what’s it like being involved in the sport away from the greens?

I love watching bowls, helping on match committees and giving something back to this great game.

What’s your best attribute as a bowler and what’s your top tip for new bowlers?

I love to draw my way out of trouble, I’ve never been much of a driver! And I believe new bowlers need to learn how to draw the ball well first, that’s the key.

Margaret Sumner’s achievements include:

  • Order of Australia Medal.
  • Bowls Australia Hall of Fame member.
  • Life Member of her beloved Terang Bowls Club.
  • Represented both Australia and Victoria on 184 occasions respectively.
  • Plied her trade in all around the world including Scotland, England, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and New Zealand, as well as in her home country.
  • President of the VLBA from 2003 to 2005 and joined the WDBD Board in 2011.

Photos courtesy The Standard,