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Dom McVittie 

Dom McVittie describes the moment he defeated Dorchester's Martin Puckett 21-7 to secure the 2023/24 EIBA Men's Champion of Champions title, as a combination of "relief and excitement."

The 30-year-old primary school teacher, who has previously had to settle for three runner's up trophies after reaching four national finals in consecutive years, said: "I made a joke before the final - if I'd have lost, I'd have completed the runners up set (a singles, pairs, triples and fours).

"To be fair, I learned something from each of the five finals I'd been in previously and that helped me massively for the next one, not only with confidence that I could keep getting to that stage, but with how to manage the games better and stay in the moment. I analyse the game so much and am my own biggest critic, I don't often give myself much credit and am pretty harsh on myself but I felt proud that I'd picked myself up from the disappointment of the losses and practised and played harder.
"I think winning the National Fours outdoors really helped me too as that took the pressure off a little bit more. But I think more than anything, it's proved to myself that I can do it!"

Dom felt confident on the Dolphin IBC carpet from the first few ends of his first game against Kent's Dex Weyland.
"I settled pretty well in the last 16 game and my first two bowls were working," he recalled.
"The quarter against John Mc Guinness was the toughest battle. I was struggling in that game and that was probably the worst I felt all weekend. I have been struggling with the yips all season, I'd managed to get it under control a couple of weeks before Dolphin - it sounds stupid but I think the cameras and the occasion didn't help with that and that combined with John's good play, meant I was in a right pickle.
"I was getting more annoyed with my own game but I managed to dig in. I remember thinking to myself at one point - some of your kids from school might be watching you here and you are making a right twit of yourself. I changed my thought process and I instantly started to feel it and played better."

Spalding IBC player Dom was able to put John under pressure to get in front and sneaked over the line with a 21-20 win.
In the semi-final he stuck to his game plan of playing long length jacks.
"I played a few good runners in both games to keep in front and closed them out," Dom added.
"Having my mum, her husband and my good friends Martin and Chelsea Spencer there to celebrate with was pretty special too."

After starting bowls at the age of five, Dom believes he owes much of his bowls success to his grandmother, who was an avid player and a good standard.
"She took me everywhere when I was younger and as soon as I could walk, she had shoved a bowl in my hand," he said.
"Nan played at Blackpool Newton Hall and I think I might have annoyed everyone with the banging as I was chucking bowls up and down behind the lockers, pretending I was playing against the big names at the time! She got me started and taught me a lot of what I know today. I think from that point forward I was fascinated by the game and just wanted to play and play, to be the best player I could be."

Dom regards the first time he truly felt success as reaching the area final of the mixed pairs with his Nan at the age of 12. Since then he's achieved both indoors and outdoors and has had a number of highlights.

Dom said: "I think winning the National Fours outdoors with Steve Hill, Harry Mycock and Martin Spencer in 2023 has to be the most special. As some people know, I'm not the biggest fan of outdoors - I get very frustrated with it because it doesn't suit my game and I try and be too neat.
"We were a new four that season and we are really good friends - we get on so well together and that just made the games so much more enjoyable. I think that's what made it so special, winning a national with three people I have grown very close to since I moved to Spalding in 2021. We wanted to win for each other - the emotion between us after winning showed how much we wanted it and I think, how I felt at that moment, will be hard to ever beat on a bowls green.
"Probably winning the Under 25 singles indoors would be next. I'd just been dropped from the junior England team and had lost confidence. I over-analysed my delivery as a result, changed it and had lost all the rest of my nationals in the weeks leading up to the Under 25 finals. I went with zero expectation and went back to my old delivery. It just seemed to click that weekend and somehow, I made the five-hour journey home with the trophy. I think your first national will always be special to you.
"Any time you represent England is a special moment too. My first junior series indoors in Belfast is up there. I think the World Junior Championships would maybe trump that, when I won the Mixed Triples with Rebecca Houston and Erik Galipaeu, who were both 14 at the time. My favourite memory of that event was Tony Horobin turning round to me at one point and saying, in the tone of voice that only Tony had, 'bloody hell Dom, I didn't realise you had a bowl like that in you'. I can still hear it now!"

Dom can't wait to pull on the England shirt in March for his debut cap in the men's senior team.
"That will be special, he said, "I'd love to keep my place in that team for a few years but I know how tough that spot is to keep as there are so many great players knocking on the door.
"For me the best thing about bowls is the social side of the game. I love the fact that when you turn up to a venue, there is always someone you haven't seen for a while, who you can catch up with over a beer after the game (after wanting to batter them into the ground on the green of course!)
"It creates some great friendships which last a lifetime with people who you wouldn't necessarily meet without it."

Sian Honnor.

We'd love to know what bowls means to you, get in touch at info@eiba.co.uk

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March 2024

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