THE GREENS at Leamington’s Victoria Park were looking pristine as the Commonwealth Games lawn bowls and para lawn bowls competitions got underway.
From Northern Ireland to the Norfolk Islands, and from Jersey to Jamaica, competitors from more than 20 countries and territories are battling it out for the medals in singles, pairs, triples and fours competitions until Saturday August 6.
Lawn bowls has been played at Victoria Park since 1909 and the current five Warwick District Council-cared for greens are now recognised as among the best in the world.
They annually host the Bowls England National Championships, attended by 30,000 people, and have also twice been the venue for the Women’s World Championships.
But they have never seen anything on the scale of the Birmingham 2022 games. Security, as is to be expected, is extremely tight, and a large part of the park has been cordoned off, including an area laid out with solar panels, with organisers aiming to stage the first Commonwealth Games with a carbon-neutral legacy.
On the greens, up to 5,000 fans per day can watch the action at the venue from specially erected grandstands, while audiences around the world can catch it live online and on television.
Lawn bowls is one of the core Commonwealth Games sports having been played at every games since 1930, with the exception of Kingston, Jamaica in 1966, where there were no available facilities.
Many may think of lawn bowls as a genteel sport which is only the preserve of the retired, but those who take the time to tune-in will quickly learn how wrong they are, and that it is highly competitive and very much a cross-generational sport.
Anyone who still needs proof only need goggle the name Aaron Wilson, who dispelled any myths about lawn bowls being ‘stuffy’ when he whipped off his shirt footballer-style amid wild celebrations after securing gold at the games in Australia four years ago.
The sporting focus will switch from Leamington to Warwick on Sunday (August 7) when the county town will host the men’s and women’s cycling road races. The circular route starts and finishes at Myton Fields in the shadow of the castle.
Visit www.birmingham2022.com for full Commonwealth Games details.