Bowls: Family talent runs true

Rebecca Jelley (North East Valley) in action at the Westpac Indoor Bowls Stadium. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Rebecca Jelley (North East Valley) in action at the Westpac Indoor Bowls Stadium. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Rebecca Jelley is the latest member of her family to excel at sport.

Rebecca (20), a fourth-year chemistry student at the University of Otago, has made her mark in bowls by reaching the last 16 at the past two New Zealand championships.

Her skill as a bowler was first noted when she came third in the singles at the New Zealand secondary schools championships in 2009, when she was a pupil at Westlake Girls' High School in Auckland.

She is a member of the New Zealand Development Squad and her immediate goal is to make the New Zealand under-25 team.

The Jelley sporting legacy started with her great-grandfather Albie Jelley, who was a first-class cricket umpire from 1948 to 1958.

The highlight for the Mornington barber was to control the first test between New Zealand and the West Indies at Carisbrook in the 1956-57 season.

The sporting legacy continued with his sons Stan, Arch and Charlie, who were members of the Mornington Athletics Club and excelled in the distance events. Stan and Arch both represented Otago in cross-country and on the track.

Arch Jelley made his reputation as the coach of John Walker and now plays bowls in Auckland.

Walker won the 1500m gold medal at the 1976 Olympic Games at Montreal and was the first athlete to break the 3min 50sec barrier for the mile.

Rebecca's great-aunt Mary Jamieson (nee Jelley) represented Otago at table tennis and bowls and has won six Bowls Dunedin titles.

Rebecca started playing bowls after badly injuring her right knee playing football. She was told by her doctor that she would not be able to run.

''I tried bowls with a few friends,'' she said.

''It looked fun. It got me into a different sport.''

Rebecca enjoys the competitive nature of bowls.

''You also make lots of good friends and meet heaps of good people. It is a social game,'' she said.

She was named in the zone six New Zealand Development squad after finishing in the top 16 at the past two New Zealand championships - in the singles in Auckland last year and in the pairs with Kaaren Guilford in New Plymouth earlier this month.

New Zealand singles champion Shaun Scott plays for the same North East Valley club and is Rebecca's hero in the sport.

''I watched him win the singles at New Plymouth. He played a great game,'' she said.

''He gives me a few tips.

''I like the way he draws. He also has a big and accurate drive. It's something I'd like to aspire to.''

Rebecca works hard at her game and practises for an hour three nights a week and a bit more leading up to the national championships.

She is passionate about her chemistry studies.

''It's my other passion outside of bowls,'' she said.

''I'd like to go on for a PhD.''