Young Canadian targeting 2022 Games

Auzzie Chambers follows the path of his bowls during singles qualifying play at St Clair last Saturday. Photo: Wayne Parsons
Auzzie Chambers follows the path of his bowls during singles qualifying play at St Clair last Saturday. Photo: Wayne Parsons
At 15, Auzzie Chambers packed in a promising ice hockey career in Victoria, Canada, in favour of lawn bowls and a shot at making the 2022 Canadian Commonwealth Games team.

Chambers played 40 games in his final season of ice hockey, scoring 80 goals and contributing 75 assists. But standing at 1.75cm and weighing 62kg, rather than bulking up and focusing on a career in ice hockey, he turned to bowls.

''There ain't too many Canadian kids that do that and hang them up for lawn bowls,'' his proud father Max Chambers said.

''It came as a surprise. But you have to respect that.''

A grade 10 pupil at Stellys Secondary School, Chambers is a member of the Juan de Fuca Lawn Bowling Club in Victoria, British Columbia, the club that hosted the 1994 Commonwealth Games. That is helping to inspire and assist him to realise his goal of playing in the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England.

''I decided to hang 'em up because I saw myself going further in lawn bowls than hockey, but it's just been amazing since I made that decision,'' Chambers said.

He received an entry to the New Zealand national championships through fellow Canadian Pat Bird, a member of the Canadian national squad and a representative of Dunedin's North East Valley Bowling Club.

''I decided it would be a good opportunity to debut in the international circuit,'' Chambers said.

Playing lead for Team BC (British Columbia), Auzzie was the youngest player at the Canadian Masters tournament last year.

He hopes the experience gained from observing the difference between Canadian and New Zealand greens will serve him well in the future.

He has noticed the greens here are darker, speed up and the distance of the entire green is 7m shorter than Canada.

The greens in Canada run at 10-12sec, while those at the national championships are running at 15-17sec.

''The line here at every club is different. It's way different than Canada, for sure,'' he said.

''I came here and I just scratched everything from the way I bowl in Canada. I started with a new delivery, a new stance and a new weight control. That's been going well so far.''

But having spent the past three weeks on the road, and travelling more than 12,000km to arrive in Dunedin for the championships, Chambers could be excused for results not going his way in the qualifying rounds in the men's singles, where he came up against former world champion Peter Belliss in the fourth round.

Four years out from Birmingham 2022, Chambers is not short of focus.

''That's my goal,'' he said.

''It's going to be a long journey to get there. But coming here is one of the stepping stones.''

In the coming months Chambers is looking at returning to New Zealand for the national under-21 and under-18 tournament in Wellington in March.

A month later, he is targeting the Tiger Bowls Open in Hong Kong and then the US Open, as well as playing in all the major Canadian events. He also intends to return for the New Zealand championships this time next year.

If there is anything he takes into a game it is to ''play the game by each bowl, every end matters, stay calm and try and get the momentum going''.

The maple leaf has taken pride of place on greens around Dunedin during the championships with Canadian squad members Bird, Joanna Cooper, Kelly McKerihen and Leanne Chinery all competing.

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