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Sam Richardson Singles Winner 

Sam Richardson was crowned inaugural winner of the EIBA 2023 Women's Summer Singles this month and fought back tears when she rang her father to tell him the news.

The Hartlepool IBC player says she felt 'overwhelmed' to be introduced on to the green in front of a crowd of people before the finals commenced.

"The thrill of qualifying for the national singles was a feeling I'd never experience before, it was a mixture of excitement, anxiety and nerves but also relishing the prospect of testing myself in a high-pressure situation," Sam said.

"It was an honour to receive my badge. The semi-final wasn't my strongest game but I put it down to nerves and a new green; the lines were a little tricky for both of us but I was happy to reach the final."
After a pep-talk with her clubmates, Sam was happy to find the pace quickly in the final against ISCA's Pauline Howe.
"The green was fast which suited my game. I felt confident and I stayed focused on my routine and delivery. It's a lonely place on the green in singles but I felt I chose my shots well, especially on the last end to win.

"I was so thrilled and Dad said my mum would have been so proud of me."

Sam was also part of the Hartlepool team who won the Fantastic 5's Summer League event.
She said: "The Round Robin was a great way to end the final and we got to play against some fantastic bowlers.
"I wasn't at my best in the second game but that's the beauty of being in a team. We went into our last game two shots down, I reset my mind and stepped onto the green more positively.

"I was playing the Triples and I felt I performed well followed by Matty who played some great shots and of course Gary who rolled up the impossible ones to win the points. On the adjacent rink Lauren and Marc had an equally fantastic game, it was the perfect end to a superb weekend and I would like to thank Jonny Forcer for his hard work in organising the games.

"It's important for the EIBA to be running these comps through the summer because it keeps people interested in the sport, keeps the bowling clubs open and allows people to remain active and motivated, sharp and competitive."

Sam discovered bowls back in 2012, by chance.
Sam Richardson as part of the winning Hartlepool team
"I was sitting on a park bench and a small group of people began to roll up on a bowling green nearby," she recalled. "I was intrigued and when one of them asked me if I'd like a go, my shoes were kicked off and I ran onto the green. It's from that day that I found a hobby/sport that I would come to love and that would change my life forever."

Encouraged by friend and bowler Mick White, within 24 hours Sam was walking through the gates of Sherburn Village Bowling Club.

"I was addicted, life was busy and stressful and my mum was suffering with cancer so bowls became my outlet, a place I could switch off, meet new friends and also play a sport competitively for the first time in my life."

It wasn't long before Sam was entering competitions, but it was five years before she ventured indoors to Houghton BC.

"I wasn't prepared for the difference in speed and it must have taken me half an hour before I managed to keep a bowl on the green," she recalled.
"We all laughed so much at the number of times the bowls would smash into the ditch at the end of the green. I quickly got the hang of it and in time I got the opportunity to join the women's team and played in the Yetton Trophy."

Joining Durham City IBC, with hours of practice Sam began to adapt to the carpet and was offered some coaching by England international Gary R. Smith.

Sam said: "He said I could become a good bowler and he would enter the mixed pairs with me, little did I know at the time that this was a legend of the game. That season I joined Gary's league team and a couple of daytime leagues to put in the extra time. Gary altered my grip slightly and worked on my delivery, explaining the importance of routines.

"We lost the Mixed Pairs that year but following that I did get to play in the Egham and Top Club competitions and although I was a bit overwhelmed by it all I loved the adrenaline rush it brought."

Moving to Hartlepool IBC gave Sam the opportunity to play with top women players Devon Cooper, Dani Martinson and Lauren Mosley. She had to travel further to play bowls but was determined to put the time and effort in to improve her game.

It paid off; Sam reached the quarter finals of the EIBA National Mixed Pairs, losing out to Scott Edwards and Lucy Smith and also won her first national title in the Egham Trophy in 2022.

She said: "I love all aspects of the game but personally I really enjoy the buzz of a perfect release and watching the bowl roll up next to the jack.

"Bowls has given me the opportunity to meet some fantastic people and enjoy their company socially and in competition. I really enjoy the competitive aspect of the game. My first impression of bowls was that it was a game for older people to enjoy and relax and make friends and although that is true up to a point little did I know it's also a high energy competitive sport which suits younger, fitter bodies.

"I'm motivated by the encouragement from others; everyone goes through patches of struggling with their game but Mick would book a rink and get me back down to practice and Gary would reset my routine and pick out any bad habits that had crept in. Just as importantly the team and my friends at Hartlepool all support eachother which gets you through it. This is what keeps me going.

"I want to continue to improve and to stay fit and healthy so that I can compete and hopefully win national titles in the future. I feel so lucky to have discovered this sport later in life and want to make the most of that opportunity."

Sian Honnor

Previous Article - Interview with Josh Pounds; EIBA Chairperson

October 2023

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