Karen Murphy to lead singles charge at Gold Coast Commonwealth Games

Former Shoalhaven Heads bowler Karen Murphy. Photo: BOWLS AUSTRALIA
Former Shoalhaven Heads bowler Karen Murphy. Photo: BOWLS AUSTRALIA

THE Australian Bowls Team's blue-ribbon singles positions at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games will be filled by two players at contrasting points in their careers, in a rising young star and one of the sport's most prolific competitors.

Commonwealth Games debutante Aaron Wilson, 26, will face a baptism by fire after being handed the plum men's singles position, while the nation's most capped international representative, Karen Murphy, a former Shoalhaven Heads bowler, 43, has secured the women's honour in a record-breaking fifth Games appearance.

The confirmation of the disciplines and each player's respective positions comes following the December 5 announcement of the 17-strong contingent named for GC2018, which will compete for 10 gold medals across Open and Para-sport categories from April 5 to 13.

Each of the 10 open players will contest two disciplines each, while the seven para-sport competitors and directors play one, for a total of 10 gold medal chances.

Both singles players have enjoyed a rich vein of form in recent times, with Wilson voted Australia's International Bowler of the Year in October following his first year of capped competition, while Murphy became just the third player in history, and the first in 24 years, to win back-to-back women's singles titles after defending her 2012 victory at the end of 2016.

Wilson, who originally hails from Bendigo but now plies his trade as Coach of powerhouse Cabramatta Bowls Club, will also skip Australian Jackaroos vice-captain Brett Wilkie, 43, in the pairs, in an attempt to replicate the World Bowls Championships pairs title they secured in late 2016.

Australia has secured three Games gold medals in the men's pairs over the years (1990, 1994 and 1998), more than any other discipline contested.

Murphy, who will become the first Australian bowler of either gender to compete in five Commonwealth Games, will also skip the pairs combination, with 362-game veteran Kelsey Cottrell, 27, given the role of lead in her third successful Games appearance.

Wilson will be striving to emulate the heroic feats of Robert Parrella OAM (1990) and Kelvin Kerkow OAM (2006) to become Australia’s third Commonwealth Games men’s singles gold medallist while Murphy will attempt to better her 2002 Games singles silver medal result and, if successful, will become Australia’s first female singles gold medal champion.

Tasmania's Rebecca Van Asch, 29, has also earned a coveted position among the team in her maiden Games, as skip of the women's triples, alongside Carla Krizanic as lead and Natasha Scott in second position, both 27, in what would be the nation's first gold medal in this discipline.

Selectors have opted for Scott to skip the women's fours team, with Cottrell as lead, Krizanic in second and Van Asch as third, following both of these disciplines' success at the most recent World Bowls Championships, where both won gold.

Four-time International Bowler of the Year Aron Sherriff, 32, will assume control of both the men's triples and fours line-ups, as skip, where he will look to capitalise on his recent move to Gold Coast-based juggernaut Club Helensvale, which now boasts three of the five men's representatives among its stable of stars.

Helensvale's Wilkie will compete as second in the fours and Nathan Rice, 38, as third, with Rice also slotting into the middle of the triples team, while Victoria's Barrie Lester will lead in both events.

The line-up for the two Para-sport events within the Games have also been confirmed.

In the bowlers with a disability mixed triples, debutant Josh Thornton, 36, will lead, with experienced campaigner Tony Bonnell, 50, in second, while fellow Victorian debutant Ken Hanson, 68, will call the shots as skip.

Should the trio prevail, Hanson will become Australia's eldest ever Commonwealth Games gold medallist.

In the vision-impaired mixed pairs, Lynne Seymour, 67, will lead (with Director Robert Seymour) and Jake Fehlberg, 23, will skip the rink (with Director Grant Fehlberg).

The Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games bowls event will be held over nine of the eleven days of competition, from April 5 to 13.

Australian Commonwealth Games Bowls women's Tteam:

Singles

Karen Murphy 

Pairs

Lead: Kelsey Cottrell

Skip: Karen Murphy

Triples

Lead: Carla Krizanic 

Second: Natasha Scott 

Skip: Rebecca Van Asch 

Fours

Lead: Kelsey Cottrell

Second: Carla Krizanic

Third: Rebecca Van Asch

Skip: Natasha Scott

Australian Commonwealth Games Bowls men's team:

Singles

Aaron Wilson 

Pairs

Lead: Brett Wilkie 

Skip: Aaron Wilson

Triples

Lead: Barrie Lester 

Second: Nathan Rice 

Skip: Aron Sherriff 

Fours

Lead: Barrie Lester

Second: Brett Wilkie

Third: Nathan Rice

Skip: Aron Sherriff

Australian Commonwealth Games bowls para-sport team:

Vision-impaired pairs

Lead: Lynne Seymour – director: Robert Seymour

Skip: Jake Fehlberg – director: Grant Fehlberg

Athletes with a disability triples

Lead: Joshua Thornton 

Second: Tony Bonnell 

Skip: Ken Hanson 

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