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Jon Wilson 

Hard work paid off for Jon Wilson again this year when he qualified for the WBT World Indoor Singles Championships at Potters for the second year running.

The Egham bowler beat Jamie Chestney in the first round and then faced world number one Stewart Anderson, who went on to win the event.

Jon admitted that he felt more relaxed on the blue portable rink this year, having settled some of his nerves last year.
He said: "Potters was great again this year, I loved every moment of it; from rolling up with players I used to watch on TV as a kid that inspired me to try get to their level; the crowd there is great; there was a lot of support and people that got behind me and you meet a lot of great people that want to socialise with you.
"The green was very different this year it was heavier and not as swingy so I had to use Tiger's which I would never use on any other indoor surface. Potters carpet truly is unique to itself, there''s nothing really that compares to it and I have been privileged to have two cracks at it now playing a total of five games and I would love to return again in the future!
"I knew what to expect, I was more focused and this time round I was more of a familiar face so a lot more people came to me to say hello which was really nice- you feel like a celebrity for about a week then back to normal again!"

Qualifying to Potters is a career highlight for the heating and plumbing engineer.
"In were such loaded fields I didn't expect to win the first one but by some miracle I did," Jon said. "Then to win another one again the year after was unbelievable - I feel like you need a lot of luck and the rub of the green on particular games and you need to hold your concentration for six games from around 9am - 11pmish which is mentally draining."

Concentration does not come easily for Jon, who has ADHD -  Attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder.
He said: "In bowls this affects me in so many ways but I would say the main one is that I tend to let my mind wander off sometimes and forget what I'm doing which is why you may see me give myself a slap sometimes.

"The other side of ADHD is trying to control the mixed emotions you go through in a game of highs and lows which I think I'm learning to control a lot more, however you will know when I have a good bowl because I tend to enjoy letting my happy emotions go wild on the green. This is a really good way of releasing any negative energy for me."

Jon was introduced to the game after attending an open day at Chipstead Bowls Club at the age of 12.
"With not much else to do at the time, I decided to go up and give it a go, I found myself getting hooked on trying to get closer and closer to the jack and the next thing I know I'm being asked to play in games for the club then the county and I never really looked back after that. My first success was winning the club championship at the age of 16.
"My first impression was that it was an older person's game, however, when you start to travel around and play different clubs and counties, you soon realise that the age varies and there are a lot of kids playing too.
"I like that with our sport is very unique - what other sports could you have children to 90-year-olds playing, all competing against eachother on a completely level playing field?"

Jon says there are many things he enjoys about bowls, but top of the list is the social side.
"I love meeting lots of new people from all different ages and backgrounds," he said. "I"ndoors the best part is the trueness of the game - you rarely get the freak results that happen a lot outdoors - indoors the better bowlers usually rise to the top and when you're playing well you can literally know from the moment the bowl leaves your hand whether it's a decent bowl or not and I guess that's what makes me prefer it as I can start a run up the green in preparation for a celebration knowing the bowl felt really good!"

If there was one thing Jon, 29, would change it would be the perception that bowls is a "Boring, old man's sport'.
"You only have to watch a Denny Cup game that''s tight across the 4 rinks to see that bowls is not boring!" he said.
"I would try and get bowls out on TV more and at a time that people who work may come across it so around 6.30pm. The format could be three-bowl sets pairs with power plays and have it somewhere central with a big crowd, with play lasting until late at night.
"I think having multiple games playing would also be a benefit."

Quick-fire questions:

Who do you look up to in the game? This has got to be my old mate Joe Stevens from Surrey- he's a legend in my eyes, a great player with great understanding of the game, a great guy and an interesting character to have watched on the green!

What are your hopes for the future? Never set your goals too high. My hopes are to become the world champion that I could hold on to forever. There's lots of room for improvement but I believe I have proved that I can mix it up with the best in the world. I don't lack self-confidence.

Pet hate on the green? People calling in wicks, then clapping and celebrating.

Most likely to say? HURRRRRRRY

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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