Kiwi bowls legend Marlene Castle has called upon the lawn bowls community to come out in support of the World Masters Games 2017 – which she describes as “a unique event.”
The three-time Commonwealth Games medallist and former World Indoor singles champion enjoyed a stellar 16-year international career before retiring in 2004 to spend more time with her grandchildren.
Now Castle, in her official role with Bowls NZ to help promote the quadrennial multi-sports competition, is hoping the bowls fraternity will fully back the event, which is expected to attract more than 25,000 participants competing across 28 sports.
“It is such a great event because you can play more than one sport,” adds Castle, who also won four World Bowls medals. “It would be great for families to be involved, but also presents a chance to embrace an international event. Participants will also have the opportunity to experience the pride and the thrill of marching around the stadium at an opening ceremony.”
Castle took up the game of bowls at the Bucklands Beach Bowling Club aged 39, but quickly excelled in the sport making her international debut at the 1989 Asia-Pacific Championships in Fiji.
The following year she made the first of her four Commonwealth Games appearances in her home city of Auckland winning a silver medal in the fours. She later secured Commonwealth bronze medals in fours and singles at the 1994 and 2002 Games, respectively.
Yet, arguably, her outstanding achievement came in England when taking the World Indoor singles crown in 2000.
“New Zealanders didn’t play much then on the indoor carpet, so to play against those players who play on that surface all the time and to win was pretty exciting,” she adds of the memory.
Castle, a former Auckland Bowls administrator, hopes to tap into her extensive contacts both in New Zealand, Australia and around the World to help promote the World Masters Games, which takes place in April 2017.
She believes the three bowling clubs used for the Games – Carlton Cornwall, Remuera and Mt Eden – offer an attractive trio of playing locations and that the city of Auckland will perfectly showcase the event.
“Auckland is an amazing city, particularly if we are able to turn on some great weather,” says Castle, who is based in Orakei. “So for participants it is not only about the bowls events but all the 28 sports. It also offers them a great chance to look around this beautiful city.’
Castle, now aged 70, says she would not rule out a return to the green in 2017. However, she admits to having a greater wish. “I would rather see my son and daughter play in the mixed pairs event,” she adds. “My daughter Raelene is a former national bowls champion and now CEO for Canterbury Bulldogs (NRL team). My son, Ryan, loves his masters hockey but it would be special to see them team up in the mixed pairs.”