Central to host national titles

A large influx of bowlers is set to hit Central Otago next week.

The region will host back-to-back national championship events — the fours, beginning on Thursday and the newly formed mixed pairs, starting on Monday.

Over 800 bowlers from around New Zealand have entered the two tournaments.

The fours have had an increase in entries on last year’s event and 60 women’s and 104 men’s teams are set to contest the titles.

Meanwhile, 204 teams have entered the mixed pairs event, which tournament director Chris Lander said was about 100 more than had been expected.

The event had been tagged on to give bowlers something extra, given many were travelling a long way for the fours event.

Alexandra will host the finals of the events, although play will be scattered around 11 clubs in Central Otago over the days.

That includes several clubs throughout Maniototo, Hawea, Wanaka, Clyde, Omakau, Bannockburn and Roxburgh.

Lander said since splitting the fours to its own event, separate from the singles and pairs championships, Bowls New Zealand had realised it did not need to be in a big centre.

That was because fewer greens were needed for the fours event.

It was seeking to take the fours to the regions, which could double as a holiday destination, and bowlers could take their families for a weekend away.

He added that, while not the primary focus, it could be a good chance to boost the tourism industry in the region, which had been struggling since Covid-19 closed the borders.

However, bowls remained the main focus.

A quality field would line up and the majority of New Zealand’s top domestic-based bowlers would be present.

Lander said many of them would contend for titles, but the Central Otago locals who knew the greens might cause some upsets.

If Covid-19 alert levels rose again, Lander said there were plans in place so the event could continue.

Although bowlers from Auckland might not be able to travel to the event, he hoped they would be free to do so.


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