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Fresh from a historic fifth Ladies World Matchplay title at Potters, Katherine Rednall challenges women bowlers to take on the men


The 27-year-old, who defeated 2008 champion Ceri Ann Glen in the final, was just 18 when she stepped on to the blue portable rink for the first time, having come through a qualifying event at Poole.

Katherine said: "I remember having to play seven games and only scraping through, I just beat Amy Stanton. For me at that time it was more about just being there, I never thought I had a chance of winning it but I just wanted to play well and enjoy the experience, especially as it was on television which was so different.

"I remember having loads of practices at really funny times at the day. It was bizarre really, I found myself rolling up with Paul foster and Alex Marshall and it just felt so strange to be playing with these men that had won everything.
"I remember setting my alarm to go down really early one morning at 5,30am and David Gourlay rocks up with me there with my hair everywhere looking like I had just fallen out of a bush. It was really surreal, but I knew that I could learn so much from these people. I thought if I just copy what they were doing I couldn't go far wrong."K-Rednall-with-team

Eight years later, Katherine says that Potters "feels like home.
"I am comfortable there," she said.
"The first title feels just like a fluke but when you start doing consistently well on there and beating the like of Julie Forrest who has won the Scottish singles eight times, it is a bit weird, but I am just happy on there.
"It's a completely alien environment and carpet but having experience on the rink does do you so much good there, as does just playing it as you find it.
"It's a positive for the sport that this year there are women's qualifiers again. Every event should be open to qualifiers, I don't agree with any event being a closed shop, I think you should always have the chance to qualify, that's my background and I wouldn't be there without them so I will always advocate that.
"Everyone should have an equal opportunity to be involved and prove what you can do. The worst thing ever is when an event is all invite, that should never be the situation."

Katherine, who once again this year lined up in the Open Singles event, encouraged women to take their chances against men, even if they think they will fail.
She said: "There is absolutely nothing stopping the women that are at the top of the game beating the top 16 and beating the men. Again, it comes down to experience on the portable rink but how are you going to get that if you don't try and qualify?
"For those that think they are not at the top of the list of women who compete then you are never going to be if you do not enter.
"Since I have been involved in the Open Singles, my perception of sets play and the way I manage a game of sets has got so much better. Plus, I have played against Alex Marshall, why would I not try and absorb everything that I have learnt from him and try to factor it in to my everyday game, both in terms of psychology and shot selection or the confidence to back myself?
"You should 100 per cent want to better your game and there is no shame in turning up and not getting through.
"Men don't like it, let's face it, what man is going to enjoy losing to a woman- the satisfaction of that is great so why not try to give the men a good scare?
"That's the beauty about bowls you can all play together."

The mother-of-one comes from a bowling family, with father John running the junior section at Ipswich IBC long before Katherine was born.

"I started there when I was five," she said.
"There were about 30 of us who used to rock up there on a Saturday morning at 8.30am and we used to just play all sorts of games with the mats in the middle and the jacks in the corners of the green. There was even a clay pigeon that came out and sat on the green so all of the usual fun stuff for juniors.
"I started gradually playing in club competitions, winning the mixed pairs with Dad when I was about seven or eight and then under 25 junior double rink was probably the first club debut I made.
"I must have been about nine and I led the fours. The rest were the big boys as I would call them who were about 14 or 15 years old. I would turn up and chuck two fairly close hopefully and they did the rest so that was the start for me.
"The boys did not treat me any differently, they did not let me play on one hand or just the lengths that I wanted, they pushed me to play whatever length and shot was right. I was chucked in to needing to have an all-round game early on.
"I listened, did what I was told and thought that the majority of the time what they told me was really good instruction.
"I have always played mixed bowls and with men, so I don't know any different though I was lucky enough to have Margaret Insley and Carol Barnard who took me under their wing."

Katherine believes that there are many benefits to starting bowls at a young age.
"If you start early, you are taught the right way from the start. You pick up and develop good habits and tactical awareness.
"Learning to play the game from a young age and being shown what to do delivery wise right from the start, getting that right is a huge step in the right direction rather than playing back end too soon, it is more structured, and you are a blank canvas.
"For me the social element stood out, it was a really good thing to do on a Saturday morning. The bar opened at 9.30am and we would all get a can of coke and a chocolate bar. It was a close-knit group and the friends you make through bowls are friends for life because we all know that the memories that you get are such special experiences that you all share with each other.
"The competitive side is addictive, if you are competitive you want to win everything you play and if you get a taste of success, you want more, whether that's a club competition or a national title."

Katherine was selected for the under 18 England team in the first year it ran, at the age of 13, retiring four years later so she could be considered for the England Under 25 Junior International team.

At 16 she won the EIBA Champion of Champions for the first time, aged 16.
Katherine said: "That is probably the first stand out thing that I really remember. I played Ellen Falkner in the final and I do recall it pretty much end for end. I turned up not knowing what to expect and then needed a run-up on the carpet at Hayling Island. Els was at her peak and winning everything, I stepped on expecting to get four or five and ended up bumbling over the line.
"That probably made me realise that actually I was alright and then once I had won one, I wanted them to come like buses.I knew I could beat people at the top level and that's when I started playing more back end."

K-Rednall-01The school teacher's bus wish was granted as she has now won the title seven times.
Picked for the EIBA senior international team at 18, Katherine says playing with Wendy King taught her a lot.
"I was really happy going into the rink that I was in and I learnt about how to read a rink and a head and how to lead," she said.
She also has a Commonwealth Games medal to her name, which came in 2018 in the Women's Triples.
"I loved every minute of that, bowls is absolutely massive in Australia so for my first Games to be at the home of bowls just soaking up the atmosphere and the greens with the reach 50 yards away was a brilliant experience," she said.
"Getting bronze and coming home with a medal is what you want, and I think that's the most emotional game I have been involved in, we all wanted it so much both for ourselves and for each other.
"It was an all or nothing game and we gave it our all."

The future undoubtedly looks bright for Katherine, but now she has another goal thanks to one-year-old son Harry.
"It feels now like I have got so much more of a purpose off the bowls green," she said.
"When we won the fours, it was almost overwhelming that Harry was there, it was the first one he has been at.
"Before I played the final at Potters I said to my partner Rick, I just want to make Harry proud and to leave a legacy.
"I know he doesn't know what's going on yet but he could go to school and say my Mum is playing tomorrow or my Mum has won this. I just want him to be proud of me. Being a Mum has made me go a bit soft."

Sian Honnor

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January 2023

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